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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Be Careful What You Eat
According to this article, the FDA has decided that food derived from cloned animals is "safe" and does not need to be labeled.

Consumers should be free to make their own choices of what to buy, based on whatever criteria seem good to them. Of course, that would make it well-nigh impossible to turn a profit on cloned animal products, since most people don't want to eat such things. By not labeling those products as such, providers can force consumers to buy things they would not freely choose to buy, simply because they're indistinguishable from traditional food sources.

Is it really safe? Maybe, maybe not. The government doesn't exactly have a great track record on predictions, though.

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2 comments or Leave a comment
stryck From: stryck Date: January 18th, 2008 02:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
So long as there is no mutation, then the cloned animal should be no more dangerous to eat than the original.

I can understand opposing the cloning process for religious or environmental reasons*, but health? It just seems weird.

*Religious reason would include 'playing God', but man has been given dominion over animals, so I'm not sure if that's really a problem. Environmentally, shortening the gene pool creates a greater risk of all livestock being vulnerable to a new disease, reducing the number that would survive. I would think farmers and breeders would be concerned about that possibility.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 18th, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
What to buy should be the consumer's fully informed choice -- even if their reasons seem "silly" to other people.

I don't see anything inherent to cloning *as a concept* that would necessarily make clone-derived animal products dangerous. But in practice? This is the industry that pumps animals full of drugs and feeds ground-up corpses to herbivores, and the government that approved things like DDT and fen-phen. Let's say not everybody trusts them.

Cloned animals frequently have birth defects and assorted problems; and they come out of a lab. Something about the generation process might linger and be bad for humans, like some antibiotics and pesticides linger. And we already know that people aren't always careful enough about keeping those things out of the food supply, so lab contaminants are a possibility. Would genetic warping make something inedible, less nutritious, or actively harmful? It doesn't seem *likely* to me, but I can imagine it as *possible*. Is someone going to check every clone for accuracy against the original pattern? I doubt it: too expensive.

You already nailed my primary reason for hesitating to buy cloned products: it drains the gene pool. That pool is precious. It's why I buy brown eggs, so people will have to farm *something* other than friggin' White Leghorns. I live in farm country; I have seen what happens when some ailment finds a vulnerability in a superpopular crop. A third of the fields turn black. It is imbecilic to put all your eggs in one basket. The narrower the gene pool, the more vulnerable.

That doesn't mean I'm against *cloning*. It's a precious technology and should be explored. But it should never be forced on anyone. If I'm going to test a new technology, I have the right to know that I'm doing it and to decide the risk-benefit ratio for myself.

Would I knowingly buy cloned material? I might. Chances are, though, it would start out more expensive and I wouldn't buy it; or I'd try it once and conclude that it wasn't any better than ordinary stuff and not buy it again.

If I could *afford* organic food freely, I'd probably make that the dominant part of my diet. I can't; it's too expensive. But there are things I won't buy no matter how cheap they are. Looking at America's overall crappy health makes me further suspicious of the foodbase quality ... I know part of the problem is bad eating habits, but I am frequently disturbed by what I read on the labels. That crap can't be good for people.

Remember: to a large company, you are not a human being, you are a walking bank account, and you will be treated accordingly.
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