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Cloned Food

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Did anyone else see this piece in yesterday's Washington Post? And what did you think of this?

A fight is brewing over whether food from cloned animals must carry special labels.

"We feel like the average consumer is going to accept this technology as we move forward," Glenn said. "There will not be a label that will indicate this is anything other than healthy meat and milk."

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Did anyone else see this piece in yesterday's Washington Post? And what did you think of this?

Pollan's commentary summed up my feelings pretty well. Monoculture is never a good thing.

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Realistically, I wouldn't expect to see many cloned animals entering the food chain directly for a long time. Embryo transfer is still too damned expensive, and the success percentage is too low to waste the time and effort on terminal animals. (I say this having come >< that close to buying my parents embryos for Christmas. :) ) I think the "clone your prize bull/cow who was struck by lightning" scenario is primarily what we're going to see for a while.

That being said, I do think they ought to keep a careful eye on the monoculture scenario. My parents are in the process of having all their animals tested for a naturally occurring, but terminal, mutation that's cropped up in their breed of cattle in the last few years, essentially traceable to a single animal; they've been lucky that not a lot of theirs have been affected so far, but that single mutation is going to have ramifications for years to come. Too much linebreeding, too much cloning, whatever - one unfortunate accident, and you have the bovine equivalent of the Potato Famine.

I'm kind of ambivalent on the labeling issue - if AI or embryo transfer came along now instead of 50/30 years ago, there'd be all sorts of cries for labeling, and there's absolutely no health risk there. Genetically, the cloned animals are still 100% cow. Should there be continued testing? Absolutely. Should there be a mandatory labeling scheme before any risk is proven? Probably not.

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Should there be a mandatory labeling scheme before any risk is proven? Probably not.

I do not know the state of the proposals, but right now you cannot lable a food as being free of GMO under current lableing law. If I am a producer of beef wwho does not support cloning or other artificial processes, can I still lable my product as free of these proecesses?

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I do not know the state of the proposals, but right now you cannot lable a food as being free of GMO under current lableing law. If I am a producer of beef wwho does not support cloning or other artificial processes, can I still lable my product as free of these proecesses?
If you read the article, that sort of labeling is exactly what some major producers are afraid of - that it will make a distinction when none is necessary.

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If you read the article, that sort of labeling is exactly what some major producers are afraid of - that it will make a distinction when none is necessary.

As a consumer, I feel as if I should have the right to make my own decision. Our current administration is always saying how great markets are and how they let the consumer's desires be known and how its "you're money" etc. But if I chose to give my money to a farmer who chooses to not clone, unless I am also willing to pay for organic, I cannot be assured of getting a non cloned animal or one from a breeding animal that has cloned animals in its past.

I am staunchly against cloning because it will lead to a reduction of the genetic material in production of our food. I think we are blindly racing down a path in modern agribusiness where we will have few alternatives for many foods except a few strains controlled by big business. This is my own personal opinion and I should have the right to support this in the market place. But our government does not allow the practice of free speech on agricultural products when it goes against the interests of large agribusiness interests.

It is illegal for a winery to put any beneficial health claims on a label, "regardless of the truth or falsity" of the claim. Yet you can buy a bottle of wine that says Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Valley on the label and get no cabernet actually grown in the Napa Valley. You can buy a bottle of Pinot Noir and get a wine only 75% of which is Pinot Noir.

Why can't our labeling law be such that the labels can tell the truth and cannot lie. If you have cloned cow in your production chain, you needn't put it on the label. But if you have non cloned product or non gmo product, why can't you say so.

By the way, one argument against GMO in the first place made by the natural foods industry was that you would have genetic drift of GMO material into non GMO plants. We were told we were alarmists and that it would never happen. Now small organic farmers have been sued for trade law infringements based on their having GMO in their crops, not from having planted illegally these products without having bought them from Monsanto or ADM etc, but because of the genetic drift of the GMO material into their crops. Today it is almost impossible to find non GMO affected corn: either it is GMO or it has been contaminated with GMO.

For a wonderfully alarmist Sci Fi discussion of this topic, read the green Brain by Frank Herbert of Dune Fame. Written well ebfore these issues came to the fore, it is an entertaining dystopia view of agribusiness run amok.

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For a wonderfully alarmist Sci Fi discussion of this topic, read the green Brain by Frank Herbert of Dune Fame. Written well ebfore these issues came to the fore, it is an entertaining dystopia view of agribusiness run amok.

Another take on this would be The Death of Grass, also published as No Blade of Grass, by John Christopher. It isn't too great a leap of imagination to see how agribusiness monocultures could lead to a doomsday scenario.

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