Your Quarter-Pounder Just Might Have Come From a Cloned Cow (Indirectly)

By Eliza Strickland | September 4, 2008 3:42 pm

hamburger meatMeat and milk from the offspring of cloned animals may already be part of the U.S. food supply, the Food and Drug Administration announced this week. While the cloning process is too expensive (about $20,000 per animal) to justify creating clones that will be turned into hamburgers, some ranchers have cloned animals with desirable traits, which they then breed the old-fashioned way to create offspring. Officials said it is impossible to differentiate between cloned animals, their offspring and conventionally bred animals, making it difficult to know if offspring are in the food supply [Reuters].

The use of cloned livestock–particularly cows, swine, and sheep–has been fiercely debated in the United States and Europe. In January, the FDA declared that cloned animals and their offspring were as safe to eat as conventionally bred animals; regulators still ask that food companies follow a voluntary moratorium on using cloned animals for food production, but no such moratorium exists for the clones’ natural offspring. Those offspring may have made it into the food supply, a U.S. Agriculture Department spokesman said, but “they would be a very limited number because of the very few number of clones that are out there and relatively few of those clones are at an age where they would be parenting” [Reuters].

European regulators have taken a much dimmer view of the cloning industry, and yesterday the European Parliament proposed an official ban on using clones or their offspring for food production. Several expert groups, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, outlined problems such as the animals’ well-being and the higher mortality rate of cloned animals. They also stressed that cloning coould considerably reduce the gene pool diversity and increase the risk of whole herds being hit by an illness they are all particularly susceptible to [AFP].

Here in the United States, 20 food companies responded to the FDA’s latest announcement by promising not to use cloned livestock, citing consumer polls that showed consumers have health, ethical, and environmental concerns regarding cloned meat. Basil Maglaris, a spokesman for Kraft, the U.S.’s largest food company by revenue and a major cheese producer, said the company has told suppliers it will accept only ingredients from conventional animals. “The surveys we’ve seen indicate that consumers aren’t receptive to ingredients from cloned animals,” he said [The Wall Street Journal]. However, Kraft’s current pledge only applies to the clones themselves, not to their offspring.

Image: flickr/ms. Tea

Related Post: Europe Isn’t Ready for Meat and Milk From Cloned Animals

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Living World
  • JIm Jones

    Wow, I think now is a good time to become a vegetarian!


  • John Lee

    Meh, they have been doing that for years.

  • J to the D

    Most fast food burgers are made from many cows ground up and blended together.

  • Leo

    That headline is a stretch! It’s like “Your Senator May Be a Slave Owner (indirectly)” and then when you read the fine print it’s just because your senator’s ancestors may have been slave owners. The media knows cloning freaks out a lot of people. Sigh. The quality and safety of meat and milk from cattle has nothing to do with whatever reproductive methods were used to produce their parents or grandparents. What a non-issue….

  • Sara DowntoEarth

    Non-issue is right! Even if you give creedence to the concerns over cloned animals, all those issues are not relevant to their offspring.

    And I wish people would stop claiming that cloning will decrease the gene pool. It’s effect will be miniscule and far less than traditional selection and artificial insemination.

  • Center For Food Safety

    Here’s the problem with cloned animals…. NO long-term food safety studies have been done. Simple as that. I don’t want to put something in my child’s body, NOT knowing that in 20 years he will develop a cancer because of it. Did you know that about 85% of all the cancer’s known to man are directly attributed to our diet and environment (smoke, smog, chemicals). That is an insanely high number from stuff that is CREATED BY US. The growth hormone they inject cows, has been PROVEN to cause various cancers in children, and it’s STILL LEGALIZED by the FDA. When are we going to say ENOUGH already to the FDA, and the revolving door that exists between FDA Administrators, and the Corporations which produce these products they authorize for use in our food supply? ENOUGH ALREADY. It’s time to take a stand. If anything, EDUCATE YOURSELF. It’s very simple. Look at who makes these products, the science behind the cloning, the growth hormones, etc. Then you’ll see a DIRECT LINK to FDA members when they leave the FDA. They move on to the boards of these corporations or vice-versa – they come from these boards, and now hold prominent positions within the FDA. How can I trust someone @ the FDA who was previously working for one of these companies? They can’t assure us 100% that these foods are safe for us, and THIS is the reason why the EU has denied requests for use of clone animals, because they want MORE research done. If your ok with being a LAB RAT for CLONED FOOD… by all means. But I am not willing to put my life at risk, nor the life of my children for something we know NOTHING about. EDUCATE YOURSELF.

  • Center for not CAPITALIZING everything

    @ Center
    You DON’T need to capitalize every other word you type to get your point across. Most people are capable of reading lowercase letters just as well as uppercase. Also, if you’re going to start spouting a bunch of “facts” you should site your sources with a link or something like any respectable blogger or journalist.

    And don’t tell me to EDUCATE MYSELF when it’s obvious you only want my education to follow your personal opinions.

  • Doug Brenner

    Hmm, I thought it was very possible to distinguish between cloned animals and either their offspring or conventionally-bred animals.

    Isn’t the mitochondrial DNA in a cloned animal a significant mismatch against the nuclear DNA? If so, it should be possible to detect the evidence of genetic tampering. Am I wrong?

  • eksnek

    No, the mitochondrial DNA in a cloned animal comes from the donor ovum, however mitochondrial and nuclear DNA are not shared. If the cloning is done correctly, there is no way to tell if an animal is cloned.

  • Hyo Byun

    @ Center
    Don’t be a idiot, humans have always had cancer. The only reason the rates have increased is because people live longer, and cancer is now diagnosed instead of being treated as a unknown diesiase.
    There’s nothing wrong with cloned food, they are genetically identical. Its like saying asexually reproducing organisms are cancerous.

    Also, on growth hormones, well that’s unfortunate no? Cows naturally produce growth hormones. Don’t eat cows, it’ll cause cancer. Infact, don’t eat plants, they cause cancer. Stop looking at your computer screen, it will increase your risk of cancer.

    I don’t know what kind of science journals your reading, but I couldn’t find any studies linking GM or Hormones to cancer.

    The only thing GM and Hormones helps with is increasing the carrying capacity of the earth for humans. Just because your sitting at home on your fat ass doesn’t mean you should take away harmless technologies that will support needy humans just because you have a gut feeling about it.

    Why don’t you go take some grade school biology before talking about bullshit. You can take a stand about your gut feeling, I’m taking a stand for the hungry.

  • Free Xbox 360 Premium

    I hope so. They should clone the best tasting cows and only sell that strand of cow. MMMM…..

  • Doug Brenner

    How about checking the length of the telomeres?

  • JulesAmen

    Geez, burgers sure aren’t what they used to be. I decided a while back to take control of the production of the food that I digest.

  • The Outcast

    Vegetables are genetically engineered and have been for a long time as well.
    When modern technology extends the lifespan of some humans that would have died had we still been living a tribal existence, something needs to be done to feed all the people.
    Hence artificial means to make more food avilable. Of course this also benefits the corporations because they control the food supply and can charge whatever they want.

    Wee need to stop arguing over which is worse and try to work together to make modern technology cleaner and safer. And to take our power back from the corporations so they cannot use their prices and propoganda to drain our resources.

  • eshuon

    Hyo Byun Says:
    September 5th, 2008 at 4:49 pm
    @ Center
    Don’t be a idiot, humans have always had cancer. The only reason the rates have increased is because people live longer, and cancer is now diagnosed instead of being treated as a unknown diesiase….

    Why don’t you go take some grade school biology

    LMFAO. why dont you finish grade school and learn to spell ‘disease’…
    i never realized the worlds foremost authority on cancer was so errant with typoes, maybe you had 1 too many clone-burgers and developed brain cancer?

    and to outcast regarding cloned and genetically modified vegetables, yes they have been doing that for a while and the implications are quite alarming. for instance mexico will not even allow the US to export such foods to them, and the US was required to produce a COMPLETELY new corn monoculture after an blight destroyed ALL of americas corn crop. amendments to the US constitution have been written to allow the patent of organisms which is strictly prohibited by the very 1st article of the constitution and 80% your diet is likely to to comprised of a food engineered and modified for a lack of nutrients and excess of starch and sugar (corn), which is probably why your children are fat asses…

    charging us a premium to eat poisen is pretty fukkin lame and this shit needs to stop…


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