As I watched the video featuring four identical cloned bulls, I have to admit — a shiver ran down my spine.
All I could think was, "Frankenfood."
Growing up, the concept of cloning always seemed far removed from reality — the stuff of creepy science fiction books and movies — and, of course, the Michael Keaton classic Multiplicity. Okay…maybe "classic" is stretching it a bit there.
But now here they are, live and munching on grass. Absolutely identical and ready to become fathers to cows destined for our dinner plates.
Creepy, sure…but it gets really unsettling when you learn that some of the cattle that have been cloned to boost US food production come from the cells of dead animals.
Basically, the animal is killed and the carcass is assessed for quality. If it’s determined that the cow became a particularly tasty steak, it makes the cut.
Rather than breed the bulls when they’re still alive and see what kind of steak they get, proponents of cloning prefer to cut to the chase — they think it’s impossible to pick the best animals until they’ve had a chance to test the meat. The goal is to make the best steak possible at the lowest cost possible.
They dream of creating a "great steak" that will have a memorable taste — one that you can experience again and again by basically buying the same exact steak over and over again.
The FDA says it’s safe, but the European Union isn’t having it. There’s a move to ban cloning for food outright — though of course industry people here in the US say that European breeders will just end up falling behind their cloning competition.
Some say cloning is the future of food production. I don’t know — there is something extremely unsettling about the thought of walking past rows and rows of identical foods at the supermarket.
Is it safe? Well, a 2005 study from Japan determined that meat from cloned cattle "appears" safe — but that’s not exactly a resounding vote of confidence to me. And there are those who say the evidence is not sufficient to be loading the butcher shops with cloned meat. In fact, the three studies (yep, the safety of what could become a major food product is based on three studies) do show a difference in the composition of cloned meat. What that difference means…well, I’m afraid consumers might be the guinea pigs for that question.
Am I overreacting? Am I just unable to see past cloning as just feeling "wrong"? Or is this a line that shouldn’t have been crossed?
Ms. O’Brien has written for Nutrition & Healing, Healthier Talk and a variety of other natural and alternative health outlets. She believes in the power of natural medicine and her goal is to open people’s eyes to the benefits of alternative and integrative medicine.
Christine is passionate about helping people help themselves without having to turn to harsh drugs or invasive surgeries.
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