(NaturalNews) If the FDA has its way, you may never know whether your meat comes from a cloned animal or not. The low hum of food advocates is slowly growing into a deafening roar as news of the FDA's new stamp of approval on cloned food makes its sweep across the nation.
On January 15th, 2008 the United States secured the title of "The First Country to Approve Food from Cloned Animals." Whether this title will have a negative connotation will still take some time to unravel as the FDA's approval is meeting with definite resistance here at home, but approval in the United States could lead to other countries such as Argentina and Australia following suit. The European Food Safety Authority has already released their findings and stated that cloned food is "unlikely" to be any different from traditionally bred animals.
Food advocates at the Center for Food Safety have filed a lawsuit against the FDA. They had petitioned the FDA in 2006 under the premise that products from cloned animals needed to be evaluated with the same meticulousness as pharmaceuticals, mainly because they are not a natural product. Their petition was ultimately denied. "We will pursue the FDA's denial of our petition in court," said Joseph Mendelson, legal director at the Center of Food Safety.
A measure in the Senate passed last month to bar the FDA from approving the cloned products until more research had been concluded. "The legislation, part of the Senate's $286 billion farm bill, also required the Agriculture Department to examine consumer acceptance of cloned meats," reported CNN earlier this week. The farm bill, sponsored by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), means to block the FDA from approving cloned foods. "Just because something has been created in a lab, doesn't mean we should have to eat it," said Senator Mikulski in a prepared statement. "If we discover a problem with cloned food after it is in our food supply and it's not labeled, the FDA won't be able to recall it like they did Vioxx."
The FDA acknowledges that they have received over 30,000 comments from the public regarding concerns on labeling.
Although it looks as though products from cloned animals would not appear on the shelves for years, when they do, consumers will not be able to tell them apart from regular items on the supermarket shelf. They will have no particular labels unless the consumer is purchasing "organic" items which will not contain the cloned products. Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety, said, "[The] FDA based their decision on an incomplete and flawed review that relies on studies supplied by cloning companies that want to force cloning technology on American consumers. FDA's action has placed the interests of a handful of biotech firms above those of the public they are charged with protecting."
Business Week reports that Congress is preparing legislation that could stall the appearance of cloned food items from hitting the grocery shelves. President George W. Bush signed an appropriations bill in December recommending the FDA "delay approval of food from cloned animals" until further research can be done on the economic repercussions. Some experts believe that the FDA's decision could actually encourage Congress into a ban on cloned food products.
"What's the beef?" you may ask.
Confidence in the FDA's decision-making abilities seem to be waning with every new drug recalled, bans on vitamins, and a chemically laden food supply. New studies have shown a significant failure rate in the cloning of animals at over 90%, with over 40% of "successful" clones afflicted with debilitating health issues that usually lead to early death. Another study found compelling evidence showing health differences in the offspring of cloned animals when compared with normal animals. In yet another study, it was discovered that although the clones appeared normal, they are often physiologically different than the normal animals. No one knows if these defects found in clones could possibly mean food safety risks in the future.
To further complicate the issue, host cows that are used in clone production are often given substantial amounts of hormones. The cloned animals are typically treated with high doses of antibiotics and other drugs. Many believe that the commercialization of cloning would "almost certainly increase the levels of veterinary hormones and antibiotics in the human food supply, but FDA has failed to address the food safety issues of this increase in medicating food animals." (Center for Food Safety)
There is also a cruelty issue surrounding the cloning debate. Surrogate cows must be used to reproduce clones. These surrogates suffer from a myriad of problems during gestation: late-term spontaneous abortion, abnormally over-sized calves, early prenatal deaths, and cesarean births. Cloned offspring are not any better off if they make it into the world. Their afflictions include: intestinal blockages, squashed faces, enlarged tongues, immune deficiencies and diabetes. According to the Center for Food Safety, these are "not unusual side affects, but a certain inhumane cost of animal cloning."
When faced with the ethical and moral implications, food supply safety issues, consumer choice being put at risk, and public health safety, the FDA has an obligation to protect the consumers to the best of their ability. It seems that through the test of time the FDA has continually failed the consumers of this nation. What to do? Buy your meat and produce locally if possible. Find a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in your area at (www.localharvest.org) .
If they are successful, in a few short years, you may just hear your waiter asking you, "Cloned? Or non-cloned meat, sir?" Or worse... what if they don't?
If you wish to express your concerns about cloned animal products being introduced to the food supply, please go to:
Jennifer McKinley is a wife, mother of five, home-schooler, and business owner. She has spent many years researching issues dealing with holistic and natural medicine and how different chemicals in our homes, foods, medications, and environments affect our health and quality of life. Her goal is to promote public awareness and knowledge regarding these issues. She has recently launched a hand made personal care product company promoting natural and chemical free skin care. Please visit www.urbannaturals.net