The world was fascinated when Dolly, the first cloned animal, was introduced in 1996. As factory farmers have always been struggling to obtain livestock that produce more meat, milk, eggs, etc., it is no surprise that the cloning of Dolly made way for the introduction of cloning to
the farming industry. Many farmers have found that a benefit to using cloned livestock is that genetically superior animals can be bred. These animals, such as fast growing beef cattle and cows that produce copious amount of milk would ultimately result in higher profits for the farmers.
The use of cloned cattle (or the cloned cattle’s offspring) for human consumption raises some ethical issues. Some of the concerns raised are whether the meat and products of genetically modified livestock is safe for human consumption as well as whether consumers will have the choice to purchase conventional animal products over those from cloned livestock. Many people have expressed that they would NOT be interested in eating the meat or products from cloned animals or their offspring. While in January 2008, the FDA approved the use of cloned livestock as safe for human consumption, many consumers are still wary. Abnormalities were found in cloned cattle and pigs, especially those that were younger than 200 days old. Little is known about what causes these abnormalities and many consumers are fearful that they would have a negative effect on humans who consume these products. In response to this, many of the nations leading factory farms, such as Tyson Foods have indicated that they have no plans of purchasing cloned livestock in the immediate future. Other companies, such as Smithfield Foods and Hormel Foods Corp are okay with the usage of cloned animals to produce food and believe that the consumers will learn to appreciate the technology as well.
Under the current FDA guidelines, meat and milk from cloned livestock and their offspring will not need additional labeling to notify consumers, as the FDA determined that the products would be the equivalent to “conventional” meat and milk. The FDA guidelines only require additional labeling when there are nutritional and compositional changes to the food. This lack of labeling is of concern for many consumers as well as some factory farmers. For example, Dean Foods Co. is concerned that the lack of labeling will deny consumers who do not wish to purchase cloned foods the ability to purchase “conventional” food only. Many consumers feel as well that they should have the option to purchase either cloned or “conventional” meat and animal products. Should the alternative for those who do not wish to consume cloned animal products then be abstaining from the consumption of meat and other animal products all together? As a result of the introduction of cloned animal products into the market and the lack of identification through labeling, it is possible that there will be a new wave of consumers choosing to go vegan. Only time will tell.
Filed under: animal ethics, animal experimentation, animal law Tagged: | animal ethics, cloned food, cloning, factory farms, farmed animals, FDA, food safety, genetically modified livestock, industrial farming