How has this come about?
Remember in February 1997, there was a big media focus on a sheepnamed Dolly who was purported to be the first mammal cloned? Dolly was actually “born” in1996, but her creation was not announced until 1997. Since Dolly, biotech companies havepushed the envelope with cloning technology, searching for cost-efficient methods of cloningmammals and also searching for commercial uses of clones. Two of the largest producers of cloned cattle are ViaGen
and Trans Ova Genetics
.Mammal cloning is a fairly simple 5-step process. Step one – take the nucleus from a single cellof the animal that you want to replicate. Step two – remove the nucleus from an egg cell of thesame or similar animal. Step three – insert the nucleus from step one into the egg cell from steptwo. Step four – administer a jolt of electricity (like in the Frankenstein movies). Step five –implant the egg into the womb of an animal suitable to birthing your creation and wait.To date the only known mammals to be cloned are mice, rats, rabbits, cattle, swine, sheep, goats,deer, horses, mules, cats, and dogs. Of these mammals, only swine, goats, and cattle have beendeclared safe for human consumption by the FDA. A few of these critters probably shouldn’t beeaten regardless of what the FDA says.BenefitsBefore you try this 5-step cloning process at home, ask yourself, “Why would I want to clone ananimal?” and “What is wrong with normal reproduction?” Among those industries that stand tobenefit from cloning technology there are a number of purported benefits. For example, thecorporate leadership at ViaGen is quick to point out that cloning technology can help to improvethe quality of cattle produce, as well as yield, genetic line verification and disease resistance.Admittedly, these benefits may mean more to cattle producers than to cattle consumers.However, so that we don’t feel there is no benefit to us personally, one livestock economist fromPurdue University helps us to see how consistent meat production improves quality. Accordingto the economist, “Why is it one time I buy a steak and it’s the greatest steak in the world, but thenext time, and I cook it the same way, it doesn’t taste the same?”
Well who would be against great cuts of steak every time?
While she has not come out againstgreat steak, Margaret Mellon of the Union of Concerned Scientists (http://www.ucsusa.org
), hascome out against the FDA’s rush to approve cloned cattle. In a statement released January 15,2008, Mellon points out that, “Animal cloning is a controversial technology with few, if any,benefits to consumers.” She goes on to state that, “Most cloned animals have severe defects andare more likely to die at an early age than ordinary farm animals. Although successful clonesmay appear normal, the possibility remains that some may harbor subtle genetic defects thatcould impair their health or make them unsafe for consumption.”Yanna Lambrinidou, president of Parents for Nontoxic Alternatives points out that, “Until theFDA studies short and long-term health affects of cloned foods on humans… it lacks evidenceon human safety.”