Friday, December 29, 2006

Send in the Clones

There’s a pretty good probability that your Christmas feast, not to mention today’s lunch or your sweatsuit, was put together by rearranging the genetic material of plants. Since 1994, starting with the tomato, more than 50 foods have been sold and consumed after they had been genetically engineered to favor certain traits and eliminate others.

So what’s the problem with eating meat or drinking milk from cloned cattle? We aren’t talking about moving genes around to create some kind of monster bull, although that is exactly what ignorant Americans and Europeans who oppose cloning are propagating.

The Food and Drug Administration has put out a report finding that there is udderly no danger from digesting the products of cloned animals. None. Zip. Nil. Nada. Zero.

Release of the draft risk assessment was delayed for years, in part by a coalition of big-name dairy companies concerned that the "yuck factor" surrounding cloned animals might tarnish milk's image and undermine sales. Surveys have consistently found that a majority of consumers are wary of food from clones, with many saying they would avoid it.

Yet study after study reviewed by the FDA failed to find any scientific reason to keep meat or milk from clones off store shelves.
"Extensive evaluation of the available data has not identified any food consumption risks or subtle hazards in healthy clones of cattle, swine, or goats," the FDA risk assessment concludes.

"We have looked very, very closely," Stephen F. Sundlof, the FDA's chief of veterinary medicine, said in a telephone news conference. "There's just not anything there that is conceivably hazardous to the public health."

The agency did not yet approve the sale of cloneburgers, and it did not assess the high economic cost of producing animals genetically identical to those who now grace our tables.

But both consumers, ignorant as always, and the food industry, cowed as always by bottom-line concerns, are going to make sure it is a long time before we get the best and healthiest meat and dairy products.

Vegetarians? They seem to have no problem with tomatoes, potatoes, squash, papaya, bread, soy, corn or cottonseed oil products – or with the rest of the 75 percent of the processed food industry that is genetically engineered.

No comments:

Post a Comment