|Posted by jrfarms on December 28, 2006 at 9:38 AM|
I may be venturing out on some thin ice here, but I just can't leave this one alone.
According to USA Today, "The Food and Drug Administration is set to announce today that meat and milk from cloned animals are "indistinguishable" from that of conventionally bred animals and safe for human consumption. After a 90-day public comment period, sale of such meat and milk could become possible."
OK, so what's the point? The draft of a paper to be published Jan. 1 in Theriogenology, a scientific journal on animal reproduction, says "None of the studies ? identify any remarkable nutritionally or toxicologically important differences in the composition of the meat or milk," but it goes on to note that the process is not very efficient and it requires up to 100 tries to go from egg to live birth. Clones have an increased risk of premature death and birth defects.
Cloning also is too expensive to be used to produce individual animals for slaughter, according to the journal article. Instead, it's expected that cloning will be used mostly to make copies of animals with outstanding characteristics such as high milk production, excellent meat marbling or quick growth. Those clones would then be used to breed animals for market.
Hold it. Isn't this what we already do as producers? Don't we specifically select the best of the best to retain for replacement and breeding stock? And while we're at it, don't we also look for traits like survivability so that the animal has a longer productive life? From where I sit, we already have the benefits with none of the incumbant costs and potential genetic train wrecks that are the products of these "technical advances."
Big business keeps trying to industrialize farming to make it more efficient and cost effective, completely ignoring any underlying moral or cultural issues. I, for one, like to see my food being grown conventionally and locally. Maybe it might cost a little less in the long run to mass-produce genetically programed super critters in factory farms, but the potential impact on the environment and on species diversity is chilling. And no matter what the FDA says, we don't know the long-term effects of consuming meat, grain or vegetables that have been genetically tinkered with. Research like that could take years, cost millions and end up telling us what we already know - it's not nice to fool with Mother Nature.