Cloned Foods

Originally posted March 21st, 2007 by Tim Adamec

According to the International Herald Tribune, the Center for Food Safety is challenging a recent Food and Drug Administration study on cloned foods.

“There isn’t the science to show that these foods are safe,” said Charles Margulis, a spokesman for the Washington-based center and author of the report. “I think the agency was heavily influenced by the biotechnology industry.”

The FDA disagrees.

“There’s not a single shred of data to suggest that food derived from clones or their offspring is in any way unsafe,” said Val Giddings, a scientist who consults with biotechnology companies.

Rather than panic about the cloning of food, or panic that there isn’t enough effort to clone food, my thoughts drifted towards what effect cloning might have on food.

Imagine having an onion soup made from the best Vidalia onions that have ever been grown. Wouldn’t it be a boon for the market to be able to clone those onions for the future? Granted, most of the flavor of said Vidalias comes from the growing conditions, but there has to be some genetics involved. Perhaps a better example would be beef or pork. Imagine going to your local favorite steakhouse and asking the waiter for the genetic tag for the steak you just ate.

I would jump at the chance to be able to specify the lineage of the steak I had last night. Is this a bad thing?


One response to “Cloned Foods

  1. Previously posted:

    Submitted by Mike (not verified) on March 23, 2007 – 5:26pm.

    I think this speaks loudly to the ignorance of the Center for Food Safety. The genetic manipulation of crops has been going on for 10,000 years. Clones aren’t even GM foods … they are genetically IDENTICAL.

    The only drawback to cloned crops or livestock would be that of disease. Any disease or parasite that adapted to one of these clones or it’s original could easily propagate throughout its fellow clones assuming they are all grouped together. If clones of a particular cow were distributed between numerous herds, for example, there would be no problem greater than normal with diseases and such. Even this is not a risk to consumers so much as it is to the farmers and ranchers utilizing cloning.

    Submitted by ditto on March 26, 2007 – 12:22pm.

    I agree. Cloning is not the boogey-man that some people make it out to be. I bet that the people that are afraid of cloned food are completely unaware that the majority of cattle breeding is done via artifical insemination. It’s not such a big hop from selective breeding to cloning.

    Submitted by JohnBoze on March 27, 2007 – 4:02am.

    Um, canned meat is icky…

    Creator of the Really Big Things Podcast serial
    Find Really Big Things as Part of Jack Mangan’s Deadpan Podcast

    The Center for Food Safety
    Submitted by Kris on March 28, 2007 – 3:42pm.

    The Center for Food Safety is one of those organizations that preys on the general public’s ignorance and fears. If you review their staff, it consists primarily of attorneys and policy analysts, and one chef, there is not a scientifically trained individual amongst them. A number of their advisers carry Ph.D’s but they have no geneticist and while most have some type of biology based degree, few have specific training or background sufficient to pass judgment on these technologies.

    The USDA and FDA are painfully thorough when it comes to review of new food products, and pay particularly close attention to those derived using any biotechnology.

    Beyond that a clone is… well a clone, a genetic copy of the original. You are more likely to get strange mutations with traditional breeding methods than by cloning technology.

    Beyond genetics though, what tends to be more important when it comes to food is growth conditions and freshness. A genetically perfect tomato that is picked before fully ripe and cold stored, then ethylene ripened will still taste like cardboard. You just can’t beat fruits and vegies picked from your own garden. Pity I don’t have a garden here in Phoenix.

    Co-host of Food Geeking

    Biotech paranoia
    Submitted by Christiana (not verified) on March 30, 2007 – 8:43am.

    The resistance to cloned and GM foods, usually based on completely false or wildly exaggerated worst-case scenarios, actually can have a very harmful effect.

    In Africa, there are all sorts of places where GM crops would grow better in the local climates, and make it easier for people there to subsist and even thrive with their agriculture, but because of the paranoia about GM foods, their governments won’t allow genetically modified foods in as part of international aid.

    GM Paranoia
    Submitted by C.A.Sizemore on April 4, 2007 – 8:31pm.

    I think that the “FrankenFoods” hysteria in the first world is a direct result of people not knowing where food comes from and how it gets to your store. Think about kids who have never milked a cow or goat, eaten a fresh chicken egg, or done anything other then walk through a grocery store to get what they eat.

    I have over heard conversations that make me want to slap people. I was standing in line at McDonald’s and this lady was telling her kid that McNuggets were vegetarian. I know McDonald’s is probably one of the worst places to get food in America but I needed to get fuel/food and did not have time to make something.

    As far as the Second and Third Worlds, I think that deliberate lack of education by the governments and a general lack of trust of people you do not know and can not meet. I don’t like the idea of someone I don’t know preaching to me about how I should live my life and feed my family, espeacily when that person is sitting on some high horse.

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