FDA force-feeds cloned meat

Hamburgers across the nation will soon taste more alike.

Almost 10 years after the controversial success of Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal from an adult cell, the offspring of cloned cattle and pigs will enter American supermarkets. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration released a statement including, “Meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals.”

Sentiment expressed today concerning the FDA’s statement is similar to reactions to Dolly a decade ago. Cloning companies and farmers have been hoping to utilize cloned animals to increase the consistency of meat and meat product quality. Religious and consumer groups are claiming that there hasn’t been enough research done by the FDA on potential health risks to humans or negative effects that cloning has on animals.

These concerns are shared by the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies which has released a report that warns of the grave effects that cloning can have on artificially inseminated surrogates and the clones themselves. Yet a preliminary statement from the European Food Safety Authority follows the FDA’s newly stated position. The two groups will work to gain support of the European Commission about the role that meat from cloned offspring should play in the European marketplace.

While being able to reproduce prized cattle will undoubtedly increase quality and control in the meat market, it should be the consumer’s right to choose whether they want to eat meat from clone offspring. According to the FDA’s statement, they are not requiring a label to indicate to the consumer what meat products are of cloned animal offspring, and growers who want to indicate they are “clone-free” will have to gain approval before doing so.

In a country where many consumers accept the notion that any food is good food, the FDA should at least allow concerned consumers to make choices about what they are putting into their bodies.