Cloned Food Okay … Except ….

You know those drug ads where you get the great news about all the good things the newest wonder-drug is going to do for you, accompanied by foggy, dreamy Vaseline-cam pictures of beautiful people running through fields of clover and daisies, followed by a monotoned weasel reading the product warnings at Guinness-World Record Speed: “May cause itching, rashes, headaches, stomach-aches, nausea, vomiting, internal bleeding, hallucinations, rectal eversion, two-headed dwarfism, insanity, cannibalism, and murderous psychosis in some users, only itching and cannibalism more common than with placebo in double-blind testing …”?

Break out your Ronco® Weasel-Spotter™, ’cause I have some Good News for you — the FDA has determined that cloned food products are okay for you to eat.


And one friggin’ gem that I’m still trying to muddle my way through, so help me out here if you can —

Article says: “Industry experts say it would make no sense to eat clones themselves, since a cloned cow costs about $19,000.”

With you there, bucko. But, um … if you turn the little buggers loose in a field, they’ll reproduce for free. So in what universe is Free Normal Cow Without Bizarre Health Problems less economical than $19,000 Cloned Cow With Bizarre Health Problems?

image_pdfDownload as PDFimage_printPrint Page

About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

4 comments… add one
  • Adarious Mistdancer Nov 10, 2003 @ 7:01

    While cloning of food can be a worry, it is only the beginning. With cloning being in an infancy stage comparatively speaking. What then creates a ‘stop sign’?

    When they gain success in one area the draw to persue previously unsuccessful areas surfaces. The next biggest area would then be entire human cloning .. previously science fiction .. but what but morality is going to prevent the attempts? This is something to fear, if for no other reason than the concept that this world is already highly overpopulated as it is.

  • Jim Woosley Nov 1, 2003 @ 17:12

    My considered opinion (for what that’s worth) is that this is another example where it’s too early to tell because the consequences won’t show up for decades.

    While I’m definitely of the "the hazards of radiation are overrated" school of thought, I’ve seen, for example, a comparison of an artificial joint sterilized by radiation vs. sterilization by the standard sterilizing gas, ethylene oxide. The radiation-induced damage in the joint caused it to break down in less than two years of normal useage in the patient, vs. a normal ten-year life for the surface-decontaminated joint.

    Radiation induces free radicals — those pesty chemicals associated with cellular damage.

    And — while I freely admit that it may be a transparent attempt to excuse my overeating — I have to wonder if the obesity epidemic has to be traced in part to the feeding of bovine growth hormone to cattle intended for human consumption.

    Similarly, everything I’ve read suggests that, AT THE CURRENT STAGE OF CLONING TECHNOLOGY, animal clones normally possess the typical cellular damage associated with the aging of the progenator, and hence are more susceptable to disease and death at an earlier age. I haven’t specifically studied cloning of vegetable foodstuffs — that’s one of my cousin’s jobs 🙂 — but a lot of the issues associated with animal cloning are not relevant.

    Animal DNA is not subsumed direct in the digestive process, so the obvious first order concern is irrelevant. The concern will come if cloned individuals are discovered to systematically generate trace levels of abbherant proteins, which would have a higher chance of short-term or long-term toxicity. The FDA study probably considered that issue to the limit of their analytical capability. However, as Love Canal shows, sometimes your toxin of concern expresses itself at levels below that which it can be detected. (Dioxins and furans could not be detected at the levels at which they are currently regulated without the intense development of specialized analytical procedures — typically a factor of 10 more expensive than other common regulatory analyses — after the significance of their health effects were identified.)

    Fortunately, protein toxins that I can think of (NOT many, but…) are rarely accumulative, which is a benefit.

    I guess the point of that ramble is that it will take us 20 years to begin to suspect — from clinical data — that the FDA is wrong on this point, and 40 years to confirm it.

    However, in the long term, I am confident that cloning technologies can be made safe. And eventually lead to new, less expensive ways of feeding the hungry masses (e.g. Bujold’s "vat-grown meats).

  • matt Nov 1, 2003 @ 12:29

    however, with the mass production of a production comes lower prices. this is a study of consideration, not that they’re going to clone large numbers…at least yet.

    if you bought a computer twenty years ago, you’d pay an arm and a leg. now, they’re relatively inexpensive. they’re just thinking ahead.

  • Jean Nov 1, 2003 @ 8:26

    And you thought Kobe beef was expensive! Cloned beef will be the next wave of must-have deli-burgers in Manhattan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.