The Food and Drug Administration has given preliminary approval to the use of cloned animals for food. According to the agency’s chief of veterinary medicine, milk and meat from cloned cows, pigs and goats, and from their offspring, are as safe to eat as the food we eat every day.
Consumers and the public now have until April 2, 2007 to send comments to the FDA concerning their Draft Animal Cloning Risk Assessment report. Email comments may be sent to: [email protected]. Written comments can be sent to: Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Be sure and reference Docket No. 2003N-0573 in either your written or e-mail comments. The Cornucopia Institute has a sample letter to the FDA that you can use in whole or in part for your comments.
The FDA will also accept telephone messages of up to 3 minutes at this number on the draft cloning report: 240-453-6842
The Cornucopia Institute strongly disagrees with the FDA’s draft report. We believe there are several identifiable problems as well as numerous questions that must be answered before the public becomes a guinea pig for another grand experiment by corporate agribusiness.
The cloning process is accomplished through the implanting of an adult somatic cell from the preferred donor animal into the uterus of the female. An electric current is run through the somatic cell to spark cell division prior to its placement in the female. The animals birthed by the process carry the hopes of scientists and industry seeking replication and perpetuation of high-production dairy cows, superior breeding stock, and other prized genetic traits.
The reality of cloning, according to information gathered by the Center for Food Safety, has been rather different, including:
- 64% of cattle, 40% of sheep, and 93% of cloned mice exhibit some form of abnormality, with a large percentage of the animals dying during gestation or shortly after birth
- high rates of late abortion and early prenatal death, with failure rates of 95 percent to 97 percent in most mammal cloning attempts
- defects such as grossly oversized calves, enlarged tongues, squashed faces, intestinal blockages, immune deficiencies and diabetes
- when cloning does not produce a normal animal, many of the difficult pregnancies cause physical suffering or death to the surrogate mothers
There are other concerns, as well. Cloning may lead to the dramatic loss of genetic diversity in livestock, with farmers and our nation’s food supply susceptible to devastating epidemics due to a monoculture gene pool. Cloning is also dependent on the heavy use of artificial hormones to accelerate the reproductive process and to induce labor in the mother.
While calling cloned foods “virtually indistinguishable,” the FDA has no announced intention of requiring an identifying label on cloned food products – despite public opinion surveys suggesting that many are suspicious of and don’t want to eat food from cloned animals. In fact, one recent opinion poll conducted by the Food Information Council found that 58 per cent of Americans surveyed would be unlikely to buy meat or milk from cloned animals, even if supported by FDA safety endorsements.
FDA also is not proposing a tracking system for cloned foods that would allow for tracing back to the source any problems that may develop. This is particularly troubling in that they assume that only healthy cloned animals and food will enter the food stream.
Furthermore, simply because the cloned animals may be virtually indistinguishable it does not mean that there may not be subtle sub-clinical physiological anomalies. Scientists suggest such anomalies could include alterations in key proteins affecting the nutritional content of food, leading to dietary imbalances.
Lastly, there is no guarantee that some aspects of cloning will not creep into organic food. For example, a cloned bull could potentially be used to impregnate dairy cows as high-production operations seek ways to further maximize their facility’s milk production in those offspring could, under the USDA’s present lax enforcement standards, find their way into organic production.
The Cornucopia Institute is urging consumers and the public to take a vigorous stance against cloned food and cloned food products. Let the FDA hear and respond to your concerns.
- An online version of the FDA’s draft report on cloning animals for food can be found at this link: http://www.fda.gov/cvm/CloneRiskAssessment.htm