I swear, I did a double take when I saw this headline in the New York Times yesterday morning:
After years of debate, the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday declared that food from cloned animals and their progeny is safe to eat, clearing the way for milk and meat derived from genetic copies of prized dairy cows, steers and hogs to be sold at the grocery store.
Well, I’m glad that’s been cleared up for everyone … just when are we expecting to have a huge influx of cloned cattle anyway?
I have no issues with cloned food, and I’m somewhat amused by the chatter that I’ve heard about it on the radio – there are a lot of people who are uncomfortable with the idea of cloned food.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word clone is defined as the following:
1 (biology) a plant or an animal that is produced naturally or artificially from the cells of another plant or animal and is therefore exactly the same as it.
Let me emphisize the phrase “Is therefore exactly the same as it”. That means that any cloned animal would be the same – exactly the same – as it’s predecessor. I highly doubt that anyone is paticular about the exact animal that their food comes from – does beef taste different from animal to animal? I haven’t noticed anything.
Currently, cloning is a technology that’s in the works. I remember when Molly the sheep was cloned and we had Dolly the sheep. Since then, there’s been a bunch of other animals that have been since cloned. This current regulation from the FDA saying that cloned food will be safe is a huge step towards cloned food being sold on a larger scale.
If anything, this could be an extremely good thing for consumers. Quality food sources or breeding lines could be targeted so that the overall quality of the food is higher. Consumers are already used to uniform food in just about everything else, from soup to cereal and pretty much everything else that comes in a package – this would just essentially bring about uniformity with perishables.
Obviously, safeguards will be needed to ensure the cloning processes don’t have any unforeseen effects – this is new technology after all. A photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy will lose out over time, and who’s to say that this won’t happen with any cloning process.
But, I’m willing to bet that if food were to be unlabeled as cloned, people wouldn’t even notice the difference.