After eight years of analysis, the FDA approved cloned meat and milk last week, declaring it safe for public consumption. The announcement allows for cloned goats, cows and pigs, and their offspring to be added to the food supply. However, this is likely to take awhile. There are only about 600 clones in the United States, most of them set aside for breeding not slaughtering, and the USDA has requested that cloning companies wait until consumers are ready to accept the change. But will they ever be?
The FDA has received more than 30,000 comments from consumers, many of them horrified that cloned meat will appear on shelves, unlabeled, in the near future. The protestors are highlighting the increased number of failed pregnancies and the higher death rates seen among clones. They are vocalizing moral and ethical concerns. They are demanding more long-term studies. And they are asking that at the very least, these products be labeled so that consumers can avoid them if desired.
As any government agency would, the FDA has met each argument with a rationalization. Yes, some cloned animals have difficulty with birthing, and several are born with birth defects. However, most, if they live past the first few weeks, lead healthy lives. They become creatures much like the naturally-born ones beside them, providing consumers with meat and dairy that is virtually indistinguishable from what we already eat. It is just as safe, will taste the same and as such, doesn’t have to be labeled differently. If anything, consumers should be happy. This will make the meat in the stores better and more consistent.
It sounds sane, thought out and logical. But reason doesn’t always lead to acceptance. Science doesn’t always make it better. And nature doesn’t have to be supplanted by Dolly and her children.
Or does it?
More importantly, should it?