New Lease Meat: Will Cloned Food Put Off Shoppers?

US - "Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us." The once-popular Burger King jingle may soon have to be updated to include a "hold the cloned burger, please" request.
calendar icon 21 January 2008
clock icon 2 minute read
Early indications are the public's reluctance to eat steak, veal or chicken grown in a petri dish will delay the introduction of cloned meat and milk into the nation's food supply. The Federal Food and Drug Administration announced earlier this week that such food items were safe to consume. The FDA stamp of approval was the last regulatory hurdle to selling cloned meat and milk products.

But, the FDA also asked cloning companies like ViaGen Inc. and Trans Ova Genetics to continue the moratorium on cloning animals for food until consumers can adjust to the idea. Whether or not to label the products as cloned is also being debated. Would a package of ground beef or carton of milk tagged with a "cloned" label turn off shoppers? Would they be more likely to put the "real deal" in their shopping carts? A 2007 survey conducted by the International Food Information Council found that 22 percent of U.S. residents surveyed perceived animal cloning in a favorable light; 50 percent opposed it and 28 percent were neutral. However, the favorable number jumped to 46 percent if the FDA determined foods from cloned animals were safe. The survey was conducted last summer.

Carson beef producer Jeff Clausen understands some people's reticence, but said he's convinced the cloning procedures are safe and the products derived from cloned animals' offspring healthy. He sits on the Cattleman's Beef Board and serves on its Safety Committee. Clausen said the committee studied the issue and found the cloning procedures safe and testing adequate. But, he said, consumers will ultimately decide the issue.

"It would provide another tool that would continue to bring a safe, nutritious, tasty product to consumers," Clausen said. "But, if they don't want it - even if it is a superior product - it's not going to do producers any good."

Clausen said he opposes human cloning and understands some people don't make a distinction between it and the livestock procedure.

Curt Youngers, Ph.D., an Iowa State University associate professor of animal science, said ethics is part of the animal cloning debate.

Source: Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil

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