Is Cloned Meat Safe to Eat?
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority, the milk and meat from cloned has been cleared for consumption by the general public.
This recent news has not sat well with consumers in Europe. They have already formed groups against such a practice, and have demanded that all cloned meat and milk be labeled. Americans have been less resistant to this merger of biotechnology and food, but most people, barring those in the livestock business, are still less than excited about the idea of eating clone-burgers. Many American groups have called for mandatory labeling of cloned foods as well.
The real issue at hand here is has nothing to do with the preference of "one time" meat over cloned meat. The real question at hand here is whether or not the consumption of cloned milk and meat is safe for the consumer. By scientific theory, there should be no safety concerns. Cloning is simply producing an exact copy of the original. Therefore, a cow that produces the best and most tender steaks should, when cloned, continue to produce the best most tender steaks. While this might sound good in theory, it is evident that biology does not always behave the way it should.
So far, testing has shown no adverse affects to humans from the cloning of animals for food. On the other hand, other tests have shown that the copy animal, that is the one which has been produce as a result of cloning another animal, possesses the possibility for developmental problems such as mental retardation. These problems would be seen as terrible in humans, but the milk or meat from a mentally handicapped cow is no different than the milk or meat of a "smart" cow. European studies have also shown that there are no drastic compositional or nutritional differences evident in milk or meat from cloned animals.
As genetic research continues, more and more questions arise. What was once simply DNA is now a whole new complex study in which new discoveries are being made on a frequent basis. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists the possibility remains that their might still be some minor and undiscovered genetic defects which could impair health or make the cloned meat and milk unfit for consumption. The same Concerned Scientists would prefer to see all theories tested and tests completed before cloned food makes it into consumers hands just to be completely sure that the food is fit for consumption without the possibility of health defects.
Biology can be defined as the study of living things. More specifically the content of this article deals with the biotechnological realm of biology. According to the Twelfth Edition of Concepts in Biology, biotechnology is a collection of techniques that provide the ability to manipulate the genetic information of an organism directly. Scientists are basically trying to biologically clone animals with the most desirable characteristics so that the best meat and milk is always made. The theory is that it would save farmers a lot of money on breeding costs, and allow for not as many losses due to "bad" milk or meat. All in all it is not a bad theory; however I don't believe that I would be able to eat cloned food with good conscience just yet.
Enger, Eldon, Frederick Ross , and David Bailey. Concepts in Biology. 12th ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2007.
Guterl, Fred. "Would You Like Fries with Your Clone?" Newsweek 18 Jan. 2008. 11 Feb. 2008 http://www.newsweek.com/id/95962/page/2