The Cloned-Meat Controversy

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Cloning deceased cows for superior meat qualities is controversial—but becoming more standard.© USDA

Researchers say that they have cloned deceased cattle in order to reproduce meat with superior qualities. Scientists pick and choose the qualities in cattle that consumers prefer and clone them in an attempt to create a bigger, better meat supply. These "resurrection" practices are highly controversial in both Europe and the U.S.

The research into resurrection technologies has been spearheaded by the J.R. Simplot Company, one of the largest privately held international food processing and agricultural companies in the world and a leader in the animal-cloning market.

Says Brady Hicks, a company spokesperson: "We identify carcasses that have certain characteristics that we want, but it’s too late to reproduce the genetics of the animal. But through cloning we can resurrect that animal."

The news broke after three cloned cattle were found in the food chain in Britain, with an estimated dozens more living on farms across the country. American scientists have been cloning deceased cattle for some time and are believed to be far ahead of British markets in resurrection technologies. Today, about 1,000 cattle out of 100 million cattle destined for supermarkets are said to be cloned.

Researchers have applied pressure on British markets, warning that they will fall behind the world market if they do not adopt these new procedures. As of this time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has declared cloned meat and dairy products safe for consumers. The European Food Safety authority insists more research must be done before they can deem the product safe.

Marc Walton, president of ViaGen, the leading American animal cloning company, believes that cloning cattle for consumption purposes will become the norm in the near future. But cloning remains a dubious practice. Many clones evidence lower-functioning immune systems, increased rates of infection, tumor growth and other disorders. Clones also age prematurely and die young. And cloned animals are often born abnormally large, contributing to dangerous births and increased fatality in carriers.

Some view cloned meat as the answer to the world’s increasing population and food shortage. At this time, research suggests that eating cloned meat or dairy will not have negative consequences for consumers" health. Companies remain unsure how the public will react to cloned meat—but, currently, no labeling for cloned meat or dairy products is required.

SOURCES: Daily Mail; Cloning Fact Sheet.