Did You Eat Cloned Meat For Dinner Last Night?

It looks good, doesn’t it?

Stare at this picture long enough, and I guarantee that most of you will actually begin salivating at the thought of wolfing down this juicy cheeseburger.

How about this?

How about this?

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that milk and meat from the offspring of cloned livestock have entered the U.S. food supply.

“The number of clones is on the rise, and no one is keeping track of all their offspring.

In January, the Food and Drug Administration said products from cloned cattle, pigs and goats … and their conventionally bred offspring — are safe to eat”.


Here is the FDA’s “official” position on the safety of cloned meat as part of the U.S. food supply.

“After years of detailed study and analysis, the Food and Drug Administration has concluded that meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals.

There was insufficient information for the agency to reach a conclusion on the safety of food from clones of other animal species, such as sheep”…blah, blah, blah…more

In Europe, officials have declared cloned meat to be technically OK, but “has opposed sales of such food on ethical grounds”.

Here is their official “draft” position on this issue:

“Food products obtained from healthy cattle and pig clones and their offspring, i.e., meat and milk, are within the normal range with respect to the composition and nutritional value of similar products obtained from conventionally bred animals.

In view of these findings, and assuming that unhealthy clones are removed from entering the food chain as is the case with conventionally bred animals, it is very unlikely that any difference exists in terms of food safety between food products originating from clones and their progeny compared with those derived from conventionally bred animals”….blah, blah, blah…more

In Canada, a spokesman for Health Canada said “there are currently no foods from cloned animals approved for sale in Canada.”

Here is Health Canada’s “interim” position on cloned meat:


“Until more is known about the products of this technology, Health Canada will consider foods produced from livestock developed using SCNT and the progeny of such livestock to be captured under the definition of “novel food” in the Food and Drug Regulations in that they have been obtained by a reproductive technology which has not previously been applied to generate animals that would be used to manufacture foods (meat, eggs, milk, etc.) and which may result in a major change in these foods.

They are therefore subject to the regulations in Division 28, Part B, of the Food and Drug Regulations (Novel Foods).

Developers producing cloned animals through SCNT must, therefore, not sell the products or by-products of any cloned animals or their progeny in the human food supply in Canada unless they have been subjected to the pre-market safety assessment required of novel foods”….blah, blah, blah…more

And It Gets Worse

The WSJ tracked down a farmer who admitted to sending cloned livestock to the abattoir.

Phil Lautner, a farmer from Jefferson, Iowa said that he has sent offspring of clones to be slaughtered for food in the past “several years”.

“There’s not one bit of difference between clones and offspring of clones, and offspring of animals that aren’t cloned,” he said.

So What Does The Food Industry Think of Cloned Meat?

Twenty food companies have told a consumer group that they won’t use milk or meat from cloned livestock.

The companies, including Smithfield Foods Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc., were responding to a survey conducted by the Center for Food Safety, a consumer group that opposes animal cloning.

  • Polls have shown most consumers are uncomfortable with the idea of eating products from cloned livestock, whether for health, ethical or environmental reasons.
  • At the same time, products from the offspring of cloned animals are trickling into the food supply.
  • Currently, the best way for consumers to avoid such foods is to eat organic food.

The companies include

  1. Kraft Foods
  2. General Mills
  3. Gerber/Nestle
  4. Campbell Soup Company
  5. Gossner Foods
  6. Smithfield Foods
  7. Ben & Jerry’s
  8. Amy’s Kitchen
  9. California Pizza Kitchen restaurants
  10. Hain Celestial
  11. Cloverland
  12. Oberweis
  13. Prairie
  14. Byrne
  15. Plainview
  16. Clover-Stornetta Dairies
  17. PCC Natural Markets
  18. Albertsons
  19. UPERVALU, and
  20. Harris Teeter

Other companies, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc., have also banned the use of cloned animals in food products.

However, many have not made a similar pledge to avoid using food from the conventionally bred offspring of clones, however, partly because no one is tracking the offspring.

So What Does This Mean To Me?

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It means that this juicy cheeseburger could be made from cloned beef.

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Hungry now?

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15 comments

  1. I was raised vegetarian/vegan. As soon as people find this out they like to share their veggie/vegan transformation point.

    Many people of my parents generation are vegetarian/vegan for health reasons. True granola crunchers.

    Ten years ago most people that I met were vegetarian/vegan for ethical reasons.

    Five years ago I started meeting a lot of people who are vegetarian/vegan for environmental reasons.

    Increasingly now, I’m meeting people who are vegetarian/vegan for what I call ‘fear’ reasons, I hear: “I don’t know what’s in the meat, I’m scared of what’s in the meat…” so on and so forth.

  2. Yeah, but vegetarianism shrinks your brain!!

    …but seriously, this is two of the main reasons I’m a vegetarian.

    Fear, and boycott.

    As you said, DR, countries like Canada actually want to find out a little more, and do more regulating before they allow clones into the food supply.

    In the U.S… it’s more like:

    Ooops! We lost some cloned cows! Oh well! It’s ok, America, they’re safe……………… TRUST US.”

    rrrrrriiiiiigghht

    Btw, how the F do cloned animals get lost? Who’s letting people/labs clone cows so that Farmer Fran can screw up his paperwork and send Dolly to the slaughter house?

  3. What am I missing? A cloned animal is still an animal. It’s not a radioactive mutant, it’s not an alien, it has not had it’s molecules rearranged. A cloned animal that lives to maturity is obviously a fully functioning organism. None of my friends who have expressed horror at eating cloned meat have been able to give me any reason why it’s any different.

  4. Hi Tom,

    In October 2003, the FDA told the public that the meat, milk, and eggs from cloned livestock are safe for human consumption.

    Yet, the agency based its conclusion on a single study (2005 – U of Connecticut), ignoring numerous other studies that document serious health problems commonly suffered by cloned animals.

    The FDA’s veterinary medicine advisory panel rebuked the agency for its position, declaring that not enough research has been done to determine whether food derived from cloned animals is safe.

    In fact, livestock cloning raises numerous health and ethical concerns.

    Over 99 percent of cloning attempts fail, and cloned animals that are born have more health problems and higher mortality rates than sexually reproduced animals.

    Given that researchers do not understand many of the health problems that arise throughout the lifecycles of cloned animals, the FDA acted irresponsibly in assuming that the foods produced from these animals are safe for humans to eat.

    According to Ian Wilmut, the leader of the team of scientists that cloned the sheep Dolly, determining the health impacts of food derived from clones must be based on the animals’ complete health profiles. Such studies have not been done.

    For me, it comes down to the fact that I believe that the FDA does not have the public’s health as it’s chief concern.

    At the very least, I would hope than meat from cloned animals would be kept separate from regular animals and that it is labeled as such.

    There have been lots of examples of products that gov’t agencies have declared safe that have turned out to be far from safe.

    Thalidomide, DDT, cigarettes, Aspartame, Fen-Phen, Asbestos, chromated copper arsenate (CCA) – used in pressure treated wood, feeding dead grazing animals to other dead grazing animals…hello Mad Cow Disease…..

    These examples don’t prove than cloned meat is or will be dangerous for human consumption.

    But the FDA telling us that it is safe…well, I just don’t trust their conclusion.

    This same argument is being used by the American Corn Association to confuse consumers about the health concerns surrounding HFCS.

    http://whyareyousofat.wordpress.com/2008/09/15/high-fructose-corn-syrup-you-know-you-want-it/

    But even after all of the scientific testing has been done, I think most people are still going to have a hard time getting over the ICK factor of eating cloned meat.

    It’s just a little to Dr.Frankenstein for most people. Scientific or not, public opinion still drives policy.

  5. The offspring of cloned animals shouldn’t be any different from normal animals. The health problems that cloned animals often have arise from the age of the genetic material, and should have no effect on the offspring.
    The only real problem here is the gut level rejection that most people have towards this sort of thing. That is a big factor, and one that no amount of studies can over come.

  6. Gabrielle,

    aaaahhhhh… The eternal battle between the head and the gut.

    If we look strictly at the current science, the head should win this argument.

    But it’s not winning. The gut is kicking it’s butt.

    The Ick factor is winning this debate.

    For now.

    In the beginning, people were terrified of cell phones, Ashton Kucher and Demi Moore, microwaves, cars, fire, the wheel, the apple…

    As things become familiar, they become comfortable and we relax and accept

    Let’s see if this debate is still around in a decade or two.

    By then, we may be freaking out over the introduction of Soylent Green

  7. I believe genetic diversity (as limited as it is in the food industry) is still important. Continuously using the same prized clone will eventually result in disease (at least in my opinion).
    While there really isn’t any proof it is bad to consume cloned animals… we have to realize that with current techniques telomeres at the end of chromosomes tend to be shorter in cloned animals. The result is premature aging with a host of age related diseases for the animals. I’m not sure how this would affect us as consumers but it’s just something to note.

  8. This is not a subject I know a lot about. I hope you don’t mind me saying so DR, but your original posting did not make it clear why you were skeptical about cloned meat and mainly reported official conclutions (which like you, I find suspect).

    My first thought was better cloned than genetically modified, because at least cloning follows natures original blueprint.

    However, your answers to some of the comments (about health problems etc, make it clearer to me).

    I did not realise that they had more health problems, or as Bentlyr says, premature aging.

    So I to will steer clear of it for now as well.

  9. It’s interesting how you brought up this subject – I wasn’t aware of how many people were aware of “cloning” meat that we actually consume.
    Comparing the photos of “cloned” meat to actual meat in your article, I would have never been able to detect which is which.

    It wasn’t until a few months ago while driving along a main road in town, I noticed some animal activists petitioning in front of a popular, nation-wide fried chicken chain. I was told by one of the activists that the chicken served at the chain was actually “cloned” – that the final chicken product after the “cloning process” resulted in a chicken’s body with no head or feet. After hearing this disturbing news, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could fathom eating chicken again. Whether true or untrue, I begin to imagine what this world is coming to or whether this is just another ploy by competitors.

  10. I also worry about limiting the diversity in our food supply with cloning. Instead of getting our vitamins and minerals from a large variety of food, we are getting them from supplements added back into processed food. Like bentlyr said, the food industry will probably clone a handful of prized cows. I wonder if there has been any studies on the human telomeres at the end of our chromosomes from eating cloned or genetically modified meat.

  11. Ok so what exactly is the difference between meat coming from cloned animals or conventionally raised animals. I myself raise and show livestock. Your meat all depends on how the animal is fed and raised. There is no difference between the meat. The DNA of the animal is the same so that honestly wouldn’t make a difference in your meat. Cloning is very similar to embryo transfer. It does not hurt the animal. All agriculturists are trying to do is trying to produce the best product possible and I really don’t see how that is bad.

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