Cloned Meat: Is Dolly for Dinner?
Company That Tracks Cloned Meat Wants to Pull the Wool From Your Eyes
WebMD News Archive
FDA: Cloned Meat Safe continued...
"Cloning technology is in fact a breeding technology," Walton
The process is called "somatic cell nuclear transfer," which is how
the famous sheep "Dolly" was cloned in 1996. Producers use this process
to clone highly desirable breeding animals. For decades, farmers have routinely
ordered semen from choice male animals to artificially inseminate their herds,
but one prize stud can only produce so much semen. In theory, 10, 20, 100, or
more clones of him increase the yield of his genetic material that many
So the clone's offspring is what will be most commonly eaten. That doesn't
mean people won't ever eat clones, however. Even breeding livestock are sold
for meat once they're past their prime. At present, the food industry is
supposed to be observing a voluntary moratorium on selling the meat of clones
the U.S., but "it's not illegal to put clones on the market,"
A national poll conducted in 2007 by the Consumers Union, a nonprofit
consumer advocacy group, found that 89% of those polled wanted labels to
identify food containing cloned animal products. The Consumers Union opposes
the use of cloning in agriculture.
Labeling isn't as simple as slapping a sticker on a steak that comes from a
clone. Parts of a single beef cow, for example, can end up in countless
different consumer products. DNA can be retrieved from meat even if it has been
cooked, frozen, or processed in other ways. With genetic profiles, clones or
offspring of clones could be detected in anything from soup to sirloin.
Otherwise, it is very difficult to trace meat in processed foods back to
specific animals. Unlike Europe and Canada, the United States does not have a
system in place to trace the provenance of meat from farm to feedlot to factory
Walton says it could be years before cloning catches up with conventional
breeding methods in terms of cost and becomes widely used, but it is being done
today. He says his company has cloned about 400-500 animals in the past four
years. "They're out there," he says.