F.D.A. Jumps the (Cloned) Shark

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The New York Times reports that the F.D.A. offered a draft resolution today, announcing its intention to approve the sale of meat and milk from cloned animals. A voluntary moratorium on food from cloned animals has been in place since 2001 to allow the F.D.A. to study its safety. But critics say the science is still shaky.

The F.D.A., which has long maintained that cows given growth hormones produce milk which is “indistinguishable” from that of hormone-free cows, concludes that milk and meat from cloned animals is “virtually indistinguishable” from those of—let’s call them real animals. The agency isn’t even suggesting any special labeling for the products. I find that frightening. And roughly 65 percent of consumers agree, indicating in a recent poll that they are uncomfortable with the idea of cloned food. The dairy industry has also expressed some discomfort, after a survey revealed that 14 percent of women would stop using dairy products altogether if milk from clones was introduced.

A few juicy highlights from the Times story:

[E]ven if two animals have identical genes, they can turn out differently if those genes are turned on or off at different times.…These differences are presumed to account in large measure for the low success rate of cloning. Fetuses can grow unusually large…Many clones die during gestation or shortly after birth. Some are born with deformed heads or limbs or problems with their hearts, lungs or other organs.

Yummy.

The draft assessment based its conclusions in part on studies, some done by cloning companies, comparing the composition of the milk, meat and blood of cloned animals and conventional animals.

Said one F.D.A. officer: “I ate this meat and I found it delicious. I ate this meat and I found it delicious.” I’m convinced.

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