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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Would You Eat A Steak From A Cloned Cow?


Will the FDA allow a cloned cow, pig, or chicken to be sold in stores?

Do you want to know how the Food And Drug Administration can have a direct impact on people who follow the low-carb lifestyle? This Washington Post story illustrates it perfectly.

In what is expected to be an overwhelmingly favorable ruling, the FDA is on the verge of granting full approval for cattle farmers to begin selling meat and meat byproducts such as milk made from cloned animals and their offspring to the public. Literally hundreds of cloned livestock are already being raised on farms all across the United States and this brings up a fascinating question I want to pose to you:

Would you eat a steak from a cloned cow?

While steak, hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, turkey and other delicious meats (if you're a member of META, then say "Oh yeah!") are a staple for many people who are livin' la vida low-carb, does the idea of putting cloned meat in your mouth sound appealing? The so-called "yuck factor" is an issue that concerns people in the cattle industry and poultry farmers, who are concerned their major customer base may reject these cow-wanna-bes.

Another interesting point to ponder is whether or not we have already eaten food made from a cloned animal. While cloned meat has not yet been approved for the public, some of the offpsring of pigs and cows have allegedly already been released to the market and brought home to kitchen tables and restaurants throughout the United States. While agricultural experts are excited about this movement towards creating more cattle clones, some consumers are already balking at this idea.

A June 2005 public opinion survey conducted by the International Food Information Council found that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of consumers would not purchase meat, milk or eggs that had been made from cloned animals. Clearly the proponents of this technology have a lot of work to do to convince the public of the supposed benefits of cloning meat.

From a food safety standpoint, a 2002 National Academy of Science report concluded that there is nothing harmful about eating a cloned animal and that people will not be able to tell the difference between the "real" meat and the "fake" meat. However, there has only been preliminary testing conducted at this point and some minor genetic differences have been detected in the cloned animals. But consuming cloned animals are not the issue since they will not be sent to the markeplace. But it is their offspring that people will be eating since the cost of cloning a cow is in the thousands of dollars.

This issue has been on the backburner since 2002 and the FDA was supposed to rule on this a long time ago. While no date has been set on the ruling, government insiders say it will be coming "within weeks." A paper has already been drafted and read by top officials in the Bush administration. It appears that very deliberate actions are being taken to do this slowly to avoid creating a panic among the American people.

Part of the problem the FDA faces is they will not require products to be labeled with "CLONED MEAT" on the packaging, which may create unnecessary distress among people who enjoy eating meat, including low-carbers. Don't you know PETA is just loving this debate? They're against all meat -- cloned or otherwise!

I guess my question regarding this cloning issue is this: Why?

What is the purpose of doing this at this time? Is it economics? Will the price of manufacturing steak, milk, hamburgers, chicken, lamb, etc. drop with this new technology? If so, then will consumers reap the benefits of lower prices or will the industries involved reap all the extra profits?

I will reserve judgment on whether cloned animals are worth the effort, but I think people who support this idea need to do a better job of communicating their reasons to a skeptical public. Tell us what this is really about and begin educating people how this will benefit them as the consumer and maybe, just maybe, you'll start seeing a better understanding will turn into a favorable image of cloning meat. The ball is now in their court to make their case.

What do you think about consuming food made from a cloned animal? Share your comments below.

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