HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >

Discussion

FDA approves cloned beef...

As of this morning's news, the FDA has approved 'cloned beef' for sale at your local market...soon to be followed by restaurant kitchens. This is an historic change in the 'food basket' as we know it. Is this a good thing? What are the likely repercussions...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. am I right that it doesn't need to be labelled as such?

    1 Reply
    1. re: smartie

      That is what I heard on the news program last night....they don't need to label.

      But then, for many years (decades?) our food has been irradiated and they don't have
      to label that either.

      My biggest complaint with these issues is that they should be required to let the consumer know so we can make our own choices. If it's so "safe" (irradiation, cloning) then give us the info and let us decide for ourselves.

    2. i don't know ( and i mean i don't know not being wise here) what the big deal is

      1. The FDA HAS NOT APPROVED cloned beef for sale either at your local market or for restaurant use. The FDA has merely made the statemnet that they feel, 'There's no evidence that meat or milk derived from healthy cloned farm animals can harm people...' Below is a link to an article from 'cbsnews.com'. Please read. Also from the article, and in reference to the above statement, "That doesn't mean Americans will be eating cloned meat any time soon, stressed Dr. Stephen Sundlof, the FDA's veterinary medicine chief."

        http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/1...

        1 Reply
        1. re: crt

          crt and all..thanks for the clarification, though it does look like a food issue for the near future...the FDA is trying to set boundries.

        2. Also in the news report I heard was a statement that cloned animals are too valuable to use as anything other than breeding stock. Meat and products will come from offspring of the cloned animals.
          Initial ruling about labeling was that "cloned" labels will not be required, but that non-clone suppliers will be allowed to label their products as "not from cloned animals".

          1 Reply
          1. re: hannaone

            Exactly. Cloned animals still have to gestate the normal way, so there's no reason to clone an animal that's intended strictly to be eaten, when it's much cheaper to do it the "old fashioned" way. Some day, in the distant future, we may reach the point where animal flesh can be grown in a lab without ever being "alive" or even being part of an actual animal (I guess then PETA can stop pushing vegetarianism), but until then, cloning an embryo in a lab and then implanting it in a cow is always going to be more expensive then insemination (either artificial or natural).

            From what I read, the main interest in cloning is in replicating high-quality bulls that are in demand for artificial insemination; the clones will then produce semen, which will be used to produce offspring the regular way. I suppose a few of those clones might enter the food supply at some point, but even then, I don't see what the big deal is -- the whole point of cloning is that it's identical to the original, and even if there are some slight genetic imperfections, differences at the genetic level aren't going to make a difference at the level our bodies will digest them.

            Meat from a steer produced by a cow that was inseminated from a cloned bull? Do you really think that if the semen is okay enough to produce live offspring that there's going to be anything so mutant about the offspring that they'll be harmful to eat? I'd eat it without a second thought. But then, I'm more interested in science reality than scare tactics inspired by too many science FICTION stories.

          2. kelli2006
            it has been said long before cloning that grilled meats are not healthy and may lead to things such as stomach cancer (and they say May ) god only really knows, but anyway
            there are no chemicals and all that bad stuff involved and a cloned animal can be raised organically could you expand on your thoughts here thanks

            2 Replies
            1. re: foodperv

              What does grilling meat have to do with cloning??

              1. re: laguera

                kelli2006 had stated she did not feel safe eating cloned meat and i was pointing out that grilled meat (regular meat) has more danger in it than cloned meat

            2. I am an early adopter and I welcome the opportunity to eat delicious, well marbled high tech meat in addition to GM fruits and vegetables. I have no interest in returning to medieval agricultural technology.

              1. The fruits and vegetables you buy are the results of genetic modification, successful crossing of various types until a stable cultivar with desirable traits is obtained. Work that formerly required years of growing seasons can now be accelerated through a quicker process of DNA genetic modification, technology that wasn't available when Mendel did his groundbreaking research.
                The organic milk you buy is likely from a cow from a specific breed that was developed by crossing several types of cattle for specific genetic traits. It's a GM cow. Cattle breeding is not left to chance. The cow was also likely the product of artificial insemination (probably frozen sperm, the current norm) and has been artificially inseminated herself as part of the milk production cycle. The genetic traits of her offspring are being determined by the selection of the frozen semen.

                1 Reply
                1. re: MakingSense

                  Splicing in gene sequences in agriculture is still time consuming and expensive research used for things like improved plant protection from pests and diseases. Most fruit and vegetable consumer characteristics come from traditional breeding. Identification of useful genes and gene sequences is important. A higher anti-oxident cranberry has just been developed through traditional crossing--after the characteristic was identified in a little used variety. Plant tissue culture work--cloning--does speed up plant propagation and our ability to conduct research.

                2. Kelli, can you give me one -- just one -- scientific (not emotional or socio-political) reason why meat from the offspring of cloned bulls would be unhealthy in any way?

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Ruth, I'm not Kelli, but here are my concerns:

                    Say scientists haven't *actually* got this cloning thing down as well as they think they do. Given how new this whole process is, it wouldn't be too surprising. You're assuming that scientists are successfully making perfect clones. I wouldn't make that assumption. Say, for example, the clones yield some kind of genetic defect outside our current scope of detection that then gets passed down to the offspring that we eat.

                    I'd say in most cases, a genetic defect wouldn't affect us humans at the end of the food chain, but I can imagine some scenarios where it might. Say for example the defect made the cows less resistant to diseases that can then get passed on to people. Or say the defect made the cows less healthy for us to eat.

                    It certainly wouldn't be the first time the food industry put profits and marketing ahead of health and long-term sustainability. Once we introduce cloned animals into the general genetic pool, there's no going back. This isn't just about some "uncanny" feeling -- it's about potentially making a mistake that's uncorrectable in the future.

                    I'd also be concerned about the decrease in genetic diversity. In general, genetic diversity is a GOOD thing for any species. If we end up making all our beef from steer that are all clones of each other, the inbreeding effect on the herd as a whole is bound to be negative.

                    And to bring this all back to chowhound, I'd be willing to bet my house the cloned steer aren't being chosen for their delicious flavor. It's more likely to be some profit-driven quality like ability to live in a 5x5 pen and get fat eating the cheapest possible "food". I guarantee cloned meat will not lead to tastier meat -- only more efficient market processes.

                    1. re: oolah

                      While you arrive at it from a point of ignorance, your statement "yield some kind of genetic defect" actually has some merit. There does exist the possibility of mutations and such during the process - however, there really is no difference here compared to the au natural way in that there's always this potential in any offspring (ya know, that's how evolution works).

                      On your point about genetic diversity - agree & disagree. Agree w/ the potential for mishap. But really, we've been doing this for quite some time the natural way (and sometimes we pay for it, such as bananas in the 1950s). Look at turkeys these days if you want an example.

                      On your last point I'd agree & disagree. Agree that "delicious flavor" likely isn't the top priority. OTOH, a priority is going to be overall profit, and part of that profit involves highly marbled cuts of beef, etc.

                      1. re: jgg13

                        Thanks for assuming I arrived from a point of ignorance -- turns out you're missing my point.

                        Yes, genetic mutations happen in the course of evolution (which I'm aware of, thanks). What I'm saying is that scientists may be making an error that is currently undetectable so that it looks to them just like natural reproduction, but in fact leaves out some crucial unknown that is *different* from natural reproduction. Humans make mistakes, and this is a fairly new technique.

                        I'm not sure what you're trying to say about turkeys. Are you saying turkeys are better today because they have less genetic diversity?

                        As for the tastier meat, look at most industrial beef now vs grassfed. Its not nearly as delicious and it'll likely continue on that trajectory when the food industry can tweak every little quality. For the industry profit comes first, and for most people (not chowhounds) it's about putting cheap beef on the table, not flavor.

                        1. re: oolah

                          Yeah, it's funny how some people assume science is error-proof. While the scientists have come up to the conclusion that there's no harm from cloned meat at this moment, that may change down the years as they do further research, have better methods of evaluations, they know what they're looking for, etc.

                          However, with the issue of tastier meat, I feel that cloning will be used to produce meat that tastes better, at least in the short run. For example, I think that cloning will be used to produce cows that have a lot of marbling and other traits people deem desirable in beef. Companies will be able to charge a premium for this uniformly consistent delicious piece of beef.

                          Now, with that said, I'm not comfortable at this time eating a piece of meat from a cloned animal. If and when the time comes, you can avoid eating cloned meat by eating meat that is organic.

                          1. re: Miss Needle

                            cloning isn't very different from "natural" insemination. It is not genetic engineering (which im not really against either)... a clone is liek an identical twin.

                            the problem, seems to me, is this weird idea about the word "natural" means, as well as a religious fear of "playing god". We are part of nature.. we can only do that which the laws of nature allow.
                            If a beehive is natural, so is new york city.

                            1. re: thew

                              I'm not religious. So my hesitance of eating cloned meat does not stem from any fear of "playing god." I have my own reasons, as I'm sure others do. It's a personal decision. Where people draw the line as to what is natural and what is not is completely arbitrary, of course. For me, it has crossed the line.

                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                Hey, that's fine. There are things I don't like to eat because I find the thought of it to be weird. My issue is just that the naysayers generally don't understand what's actually being done here and how/why it might (not) vary from what's already being done. IOW it just "sounds creepy" and people reject it immediately.

                          2. re: oolah

                            I was actually agreeing w/ you on the genetic diversity front, ie the turkey point.

                            And yes, my experience both in this thread and in general has been that people who object to cloning come in two forms (sometimes both): People who object on purely ethical grounds (e.g. religious reasons) and people who simply don't understand what it means.

                            I disagree that it wouldn't be used for better meat, I see this (at least initially) being used for things like wagyu beef and the like.

                            1. re: oolah

                              I think your argument might have slightly more merit if we were eating the cloned animal itself. But we're not. We're eating the offspring of a cloned animal, which means two things: the cloned animal has grown to adulthood and is healthy (and possibly even DNA tested -- I know if I were a rancher I'd require that before buying semen from a cloned bull), and that its genetic material is "normal" enough not to be rejected by the "normal" cow that it is inseminated with. Furthermore, the offspring get half their genetic material the "normal" way, which reduces the chances that unhealthy mutations will be reinforced in the offspring -- that's how evolution works, too: bad mutations get weeded out.

                              Finally, cloning is not genetic modification -- in fact, it's the opposite: the whole reason for cloning is so that the DNA from an animal that has proven to have desirable characteristics will *not* be modified, as it is in the normal reproductive process, which combines the DNA of the two animals.

                              If people want to base their decisions on the "weirdness factor" then that's their right and obviously nothing is going to change their minds. I just don't think irrational (not based on any fact) opinions should shape public policy.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                It is public policy. I am one of the public and so are many of those who replied in the negative. Personally, clone-away, but I want it clearly identified so I have that choice no matter what that choice is based on.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Bad mutations only get weeded out when the animal's environment makes it less beneficial to have that mutation. If we encourage "bad" mutations (say, the ability to digest and process antibiotics better, or the ability to live in a 5x5 box) they don't go away. If it turns out that those mutations actually have adverse consequences to our health somewhere down the road, and we've limited the genetic pool to those very qualities, well then we're sort of screwed, aren't we?

                                  1. re: oolah

                                    Much of genetic "weeding out" occurs pre-natally from embryo formation onwards.

                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      Yep, you're totally right. And you and Ruth are also right in saying that by and large most of the nasty genetic defects will get naturally weeded out by the "bad" animals dying off before they reach reproductive age, or just not being able to reproduce. (thank goodness!)

                                      But I still hold that cloning makes it easier for

                                      a) traits that are perceived as good (but are actually bad in the long run) to be bred more quickly and easily than through natural reproduction

                                      and

                                      b) traits that are bad in the long run to pass unnoticed due to some minor oversight or miscalculation on the part of the geneticist doing the cloning.

                                      And contrary to what some of the posters here are saying I've rarely seen advances in food science lead to tastier agricultural products. When I compare the industrialized produce and meat in my grocery store with the food I get at my local greenmarket, well, there's no contest which is more delicious. The industrial stuff may be more widely available, cheaper, more efficient, more convenient, and more hardy, but the flavor is *really* diminished. There's no reason to think that this "advance" will lead to anything different.

                                      1. re: oolah

                                        Most genetic abberations will lead to embyro loss prior to development.

                                        Cloning of animals wil not lead to faster breeding cycles.

                                        Geneticists don't do cloning. Again, cloning is a technique to manage whole gene sets--eggs and sperm--to produce, well, a clone. There is no "calculation". You clone an animal that is selected as desirable for whatever your criteria.

                                        As far as ag science leading to more delicious for YOU, ag science (public rather than private) is busy trying to feed more and more people globally on fewer resources in the face of pests, diseases, drought, and other stresses. Feel thankful that you can consume local greenmarket food.

                        2. If you eat corn and tomatoes, you are already eating franknen food. You don't think

                          If you eat corn and tomatoes, you are already eating franken food, You don't think modern fruits and vegetables are the same as their predecessors in the wild, do you?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: mpalmer6c

                            Mpalmer, there is a vast chasm between the classic Mendelian crossbreeding and the succeeding H1 hybrids, to the cloning of fruits and veggies that add or subtract genetic material in labs that was never in the plants or animals ancestries.

                            I define Frankenfood as plants that have had genetic material added to them in the lab. You can now add or remove genetic material from plants or animals across natural boundaries.
                            I do not trust companies like Archer Daniels Midland, Monsanto and others agribusinesses to put customer health and long term safety over short-term profits. The fact that we can genetically modify food does in no way mean that we should. We need to learn more about this technology before we start to consume these lab experiments. If they are so sure of the safety of this technology, why do they refuse to label it as such?

                            The FDA has become a mouthpiece for companies that they should have a adversarial relationship with, so I don't want to learn in 10 years that they made a mistake.

                            http://www.utne.com/2004-06-01/franke...

                            1. re: Kelli2006

                              From what I've read, the cloning in question does not involve inserting corn genes (say) into animals, as you imply; it's strictly cattle-cattle, hogs-hogs, etc.

                              1. re: mpalmer6c

                                I also do not know enough to say and the companies aren't being forthcoming enough that I feel safe consuming it.

                                I want it to be labeled, so I can make a choice. I may be wrong, but I to make the choice. I will gladly become a vegetarian if this food isn't labeled.

                          2. How would avoiding meat from an animal that was bred from cloned animals lower people's health?

                            Please provide scientific reasoning and not hand waving.

                            1. I think this Post article is interesting.

                              http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                              I was a bit disturbed by this remark:

                              "newborn clones ARE different from the animals they were made from in one interesting, if subtle, way: Their genes, though identical, are turned on and off in patterns that differ from the on-off patterns in conventional animals, at least during fetal development and the first weeks of life. That explains in large part why so many of them die. The FDA could not decide whether this difference poses a health risk to consumers, mostly because they know very little about the NORMAL patterns of gene activity in conventional animals, and even less about the relevance of those pattersn to food safety and nutrition,. In the end, they decided that, lacking evidence that it poses a problem (and given that the ones with really disrupted gene regulation LOOK sick, and so would not pass muster at the slaughterhouse) they would just ignore it."

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                Bingo. "So many of them die." I was wondering if they had solved that problem. I understand that Dolly the original cloned sheep aged very fast. (Correct me if my memory is incorrect on this.) Another problem I have not seen mentioned, is what about the dependence upon bulls for semen coming from the same one or two (or 200) selected originals? Down the road, do we lose diversity in genes the way we have lost it with food plants?

                              2. To add to the mix, I heard that the OFFSPRING of cloned animals are not under scrutiny, and require no labeling.

                                1. People that are up in arms and frightened about cloned meat are being silly (even though at the current point, what we're talking about is cloning the breeding stock). This is really no different (except just more efficient) than selective breeding that has been done for centuries.

                                  I've yet to come across someone who was against the process (outside of religious/ethical grounds of cloning itself being 'wrong') who actually knew what was involved that was against it.

                                  1. as long as it gets graded USDA Prime I dont care.

                                    1. i'm glad i'm a (mostly) vegetarian...haven't eaten meat in 9 years......messing around with "food" like this...creeps me out.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: im_nomad

                                        If I get sick, I certainly intend it will be from an actual toxin or pathogen, not from some unfounded notion in my head. Cloning is not a totally "unnatural" process, nor does it lead to the existence of "unnatural" animals. And as several others have pointed out here, you don't have to be a carnivore to eat food that has been "messed around" with. Waddaya think Luther Burbank was doing?

                                      2. all of you who would not eat a cloned animal, would you eat an animal was that was born as part of a set of twins?

                                        identical twins and clones are pretty much the same thing.

                                        anyone is welcome to have whatever religious restrictions they wish to impose on themselves, foodwise. But please don't try to pretend they are anything other than beliefs, as opposed to scientific facts.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: thew

                                          I don't think the twin anaology is pertinent here. There's a big difference between eating a cloned animal and eating a twin -- the twin happens naturally while the clone requires manipulation of genes from humans. I think people who are against eating cloned animals have a problem with the process in addition to the final product.

                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                            Not true. There is no "manipulation of genes from humans" in cloning. Look up somatic cell nuclear transfer. What happens is that they place the nucleus of the donor cell into an egg. There is no extra modification done there.

                                            What does this mean? Suppose there's a "perfect" breeding steer. One can create clones of this steer in large quantities and then those steer could be used to breed more "perfect" offspring. This way one doesn't have to go through the selective breeding process when said "perfect" steer starts getting old.

                                            There is a problem w/ this process though - this allows for the possibility that the species in question becomes too hogoneous. If all of these steers were identical, all it would take is one problem that attacks something specific in the genetic makeup of said steer (which wouldn't make it "perfect", would it?) and the whole thing gets wiped out. There is something to be said for genetic diversity in that case, but one need not worry about the food safety involved here.

                                            1. re: jgg13

                                              Perhaps my statement of "manipulation of genes from humans" is in error. I meant to say manipulation of the reproductive process from humans (though I'm sure a lot of you will argue about selective breeding of animals).

                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                You still need to show where the "from humans" part enters in.

                                                Unless you mean human intervention - which we've done for hundreds of years.

                                                As I said above, scientific citations are welcome.

                                        2. In agricultural research we use tissue culture techniques--essentially cloning of plants--as a helpful tool.

                                          Traditional farmers in the Amazon and elsewhere who have domesticated trees have often used a single tree to produce offspring (because of that particular tree's perceived superior fruit). If trees are vegetitatively propagated, essentialy clones are produced and there is some threat that agrobiodiversity will decrease. There are no threats to human health, however.

                                          In the case of cloned animals, the clones will be used to produce offspring for human consumption, offspring created in perfectly traditional fashion. The cloned parent will have desired characteristics and, if healthy enough to produce offspring--how can that pose a danger to consumers of the offspring?

                                          1. Can someone explain to me why eating beef from the offspring of a cloned animal might be different from eating a cloned animal?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: RGC1982

                                              For the same reason that eating you would be different than eating one of your parents?

                                            2. To all the people who are unconcerned about this issue and say "show me the scientific proof there is a problem" ... my question is show me the scientific proof it is safe.

                                              Better living through science is not necessarily that ... and a plant is different than an animal.

                                              We will be nothing more than one large group of lab rats ... and what are you going to do a decade from now when the problems begin to appear?

                                              They don't even have cloning itself down yet with many clones dying. So we are assured we can eat this stuff? Where's the scientific beef?

                                              Show me the scientific backing ... excluding the FDA which I don't consider credible given their past track record.. How many drugs have they approved when ... ooops ... turns out they kill more people than they help.

                                              What really bothers me is not labelling this stuff. I want the choice as a consumer to purchase or not.

                                              It also distresses me that it could impact my dive dining. That mom and pop is buying mass-produced meat. So eating at these places will become genetic-roulette since who knows what you will be eating?

                                              31 Replies
                                                1. re: rworange

                                                  As the truism goes, it's impossible to prove a negative. However, unlike genetic modification, the whole point of cloning is that the clone is identical to the original, down to its genes. Therefore, eating a true clone is identical to eating the original. The question really remains whether they've really got the cloning technique down "pat" -- but I'd like to remind you that all natural born animals have variations in their DNA and possible mutations that might make them unhealthy to eat for some undetectable/undetected reason.

                                                  I could argue that a cloned animal is actually safer to eat than a "natural" one whose DNA is completely unknown. Would you buy a package that said, as it should to be completely truthful: warning: the DNA make-up of the cow is unknown and may contain random mutations.

                                                  What this discussion really shows is that people have already internalized the risks inherent in many activities and don't recognize them as such. When a new technology whose risks are spelled out rather than taken for granted is introduced then people are upset -- there are risks! -- when in fact, the new technology may be much less risky than the technology people are already using every day. As an example: do you know anyone who has been injured by a microwave oven (not hot food from a microwave, but the oven itself)? Now, do you know anyone who has been injured by their conventional range? I'm raising my hand, and undoubtedly so should you. And yet, people are afraid of their microwaves and take the much greater risks of stoves completely for granted.

                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                    Ruth, agian it comes down to choice. I have a friend who is totally anti-microwave and has shown me papers backing up her fears. She has the choice to buy that microwave or not. I have the choice to decide if the ease of using a microwave outways, for me, any risks that might apply.

                                                    We are not given this choice in terms of cloned animals and I have no confidence in the FDA. This is just too new a science. While logically you can say why there is no risks, there is no real proof of that.

                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                      Cloning animals is a technical step of producing identical embyos of existing, unmodified animals. As has been pointed out, they are not genetically modified.

                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                        You can't prove that those same risks don't apply to eating conventionally raised beef, either. It's just as likely, it's just that you're just so used to those risks that you're not conscious of them.

                                                        The fact that people are made aware of some risks and not others does not make those risks more serious -- or more real.

                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                          You're missing my point. The fact is, there are real, demonstrable risks to using a conventional stove -- the vast majority of people have actually experienced those risks to various degrees. And yet, people are more afraid of rare or possibly non-existent risks of the microwave than they are of that real, demonstrable risk sitting right next to it. It's not that one is risky and the other is not risky. Stoves are definitely risky. Microwaves are possibly risky. Is it reasonable to label one and not the other? Because what that does is present people with a false basis on which to make that choice that we both agree people should have. Labeling meat as cloned creates the impression of risk that may not exist (especially for people who have no idea what a clone is, except that it's an evil thing in a Star Wars movie), while not labeling meat that is "natural" creates an impression of safety that also may not exist.

                                                          People are worried that the offspring of the cloned animals may have hidden genetic abnormalities that in some way make them risky, and yet they completely ignore the fact that those very same genetic abnormalities may -- and in fact probably have -- occurred in cattle born the natural way.

                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            Wow, Ruth ...

                                                            Labeling meat as cloned creates the impression of risk that may not exist (especially for people who have no idea what a clone is, except that it's an evil thing in a Star Wars movie),

                                                            That presumes a lot. That concerns are about science fiction. That people are not educated enough to evaluate a warning.

                                                            Listen, vinegar just got labeled in California as containing lead. Whatever the reasons are for that label, I'm glad it is there. It gave me the chance to determine for myself whether or not I want to buy the product.

                                                            I like the fact that the Berkely Bowl will not buy certain mangos because they are irradiated and the store has a position against selling irradiated food ... however irrational that fear might be to some.

                                                            I just want to be an informed consumer and not have something forced on me.

                                                            Using your example of stoves and microwaves. Yes, there are risks to both ... but very different risks. The immediate risk of a stove is different than the not as visible risks of a microwve.

                                                            There's been a lot of changes to our food suppy, to the way we prepare our food over the last few decades.

                                                            There are also rises in diseases like autisim that people have no clue why that is. Which one of the changes or combinations of changes might or might not be responsible.

                                                            When I was growing up the voices of reason said there was no proof that cigarette smoking caused cancer. Our vegetables were sprayed with DDT and it took a lot to convince the scientists and pols that that JUST could be a danger.

                                                            There is no proof that cloned meat might harm us or our children.

                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                              except that a cloned animal is IDENTICAL to the animal it is cloned from. SO the risks from a cloned animal are exactly the same as the risks from it's parent.

                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                BTW, there was recently discovered a genetic link to autism. Also, as with most maladies that are "on the increase", a lot of it is attributable to better detection/screening/awareness - people that were borderline (or people just "didn't know what it was") are now being diagnosed.

                                                                A classic example is with mammograms & breast cancer. The naysayers of mammograms point to how the incidence of breast cancer increased with the use of mammograms. Uh, no way, really? We're detecting more breast cancers that wouldn't have otherwise been detected! There's an issue of causation vs. correlation in a lot of these things.

                                                        2. re: rworange

                                                          It is disappointing that your post begins by setting up a straw man. Rworange, you usually research well and know how the system works, and this post feeds the paranoia of those who don't seem to understand how government approvals or cattle breeding works.

                                                          The law doesn't require that science prove that this is "safe," only that it is not UNsafe, and there is indeed nothing to indicate that cloning is. How many drugs have actually killed more than they have helped as you state? There has more often been a public outcry because the FDA has refused to approve a drug or been slower in their approval than consumers wanted. We allow in vitro fertilization although a high rate of implanted fetuses die. Organ transplants are rejected and we still continue the practice and get progressively more successful. Science always makes progress.

                                                          Every expert has said that because of cost it is unlikely that cloned animals will reach the food supply but be used as breeding stock, yet those who oppose it will gin up campaigns of hair-on-fire misinformation that will discourage honest examination of the issue by the general public.
                                                          There may or may not be problems but the truth - good or bad - will never get through the noise created by knee jerk reactions.

                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                            To add to that, it also feeds on the widespread ignorance of the fact that scientists use specific words in specific ways that are not the same as the way they are used by the general public. The same thinking allows people to discount evolution because it's "only a theory" despite the fact that the word "theory" as used in science does not mean the same thing as it does in general usage.

                                                            http://skepdic.com/science.html

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              My kneejerk reaction is I just want the meat labeled. That doesn't sound unreasonable. Am I and others who have a concern, too ignorant to be able to make a decision about whether we want to purchase that product? That is what is being said.

                                                              The government should then do a better job of explaining so there would be no paranoia.

                                                              In the financial crisis we now face there is one phrase I've heard over and over that applies to this situation. Someone said that there is one set of ethics in Wall Street ... make money now and let someone else clean up the mess.

                                                              I believe a lot of people will make money on cloning and no one really cares if there will be a mess to clean up.

                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                Government agencies issue very carefully worded statements, as they did in this case.
                                                                Then the media write stories with "interpretations" of those statements, quoting "experts," who many times haven't even read the government statement or studies that led to the conclusions. Some of the statements themselves are inaccurate knee-jerk reactions.
                                                                The OP in this case misrepresents the situation but that, and many of the reply postings, will be on the internet when people google this topic. It's possible that many posters have not read anything about this other than from Chowhound and have gotten inaccurate information. Therefore others will quote misrepresentations as statements of "fact," because people will pick and choose those that they want to believe and use those to support their positions from pre-existing biases. If it's on the internet it's true, right?
                                                                All of that is beyond the power of the government to "explain." They did their job. Good critical thinking by the public is sabotaged again by the sensational sound-bite.

                                                                You have already said many times that you do not trust the government, Wall Street, or corporations. Who DO you trust? Those who put out contrary information have competing agendas of their own. Hardly pure. They are building support for their own points of view. In many cases, the information that they publish and promulgate is deceptive and misleading.

                                                                There is an inherent danger in everything if you can test for it and have a statistical means to compare it. We should call a truce and put a big sign over America that says: Everything can harm you if you behave foolishly.

                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                  A bumper sticker I once saw sums it all up:
                                                                  "Living is hazardous to your Health"

                                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                                    People believe and trust sources that substantiate their existing feelings and prejudices, especially if they say it in a way that sounds plausible or definitive. This is demonstrated all the time in discussions on the internet. If you believe in conspiracies, nothing will ever change your mind -- 'cause anything that contradicts you is part of the conspiracy. Which just proves there's a conspiracy!

                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                      Once again the assumption is that people will rely on far-out, unreliable crank sources to make a decision. I want to hear the crank theories as well as the official line.

                                                                      Sometimes there is truth in the small voice that is lost in the noise.

                                                                      For example, Western Medicine has scoffed for years at some Chinese medicine like acupuncture and herbal therapy. Now there is the realization there might be a there there.

                                                                      My aunt was into organics long before Chez Panisse was even a twinkle in Alice Water's eye. People never heard of some of the things she was talking about and discredited her eating habits that are pretty standard these days.

                                                                      I don't discount the government, corporations or wall street. However, any of these organzations put profit above anything else. I wonder about people who would place such faith in these sources.

                                                                      It is just part of the equation about how I make my decision. Who knows, if I read enough government studies that seem credible and evaluate it with other information I might serve myself up a dish of tasty clone ... or clone offspring.

                                                                      I've worked both for the government and large corporations. What is said in the board rooms and behind closed doors would curl most people's toes ... and one of those corporations was a health company. It makes me skeptical and less willing to blindly put my faith in reports from those types of institutions.

                                                                      Again. What is the harm in labeling a clone as such? Other than the unsupported theory that the unwashed, uneducated masses would light their torches and gather in trembling and fear.

                                                                      Let people make their own decision. Label the stuff. Why hide the fact ... unless something needs to be hidden.

                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                        Well said.

                                                                        Saying that people who don't buy into every statement issued by the government and corporations are crackpots or somehow suspect is a ludicrous idea. I'd argue that blindly accepting what they tell you as gospel is actually pretty naive.

                                                                        In fact, if the beef industry didn't have such a powerful lobby in Washington, you can bet this stuff *would* be labeled, as it most likely will be in Europe.

                                                                        1. re: oolah

                                                                          Well, maybe one last comment from me before I get so frustrated I clone myself so that the clone could read and respond to this thread:

                                                                          Although I respect what you're both (and others are saying) and the idea of "us" vs. corporations and, to a lesser degree "the govenment", there is a another part of the equation: a whole body of independent researchers and research institutions interested in exactly what we as CHers are concerned about. Funding comes from the core budgets of universities and research institutes, from governments like Spain, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, and many others (all of whom are concerned about the poor, about global warming, about biodiversity, about bio- and food safety), and from such donors as the Ford and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And these latter donors are independently controlled. National agricultural research programs also work to produce food, benefit their poor, protect their resources and natural environments, with work done by committed national scientists.

                                                                          And, of course science can be behinid the curve--relative to acupuncture, smoking, the role of cholesterol in heart disease, why the French with their supposed dly unhealthy diets are healthier than Americans...and on and on. But on the other hand, science continually tries to move forward, tries to challenge faulty assumptions, tries to and rewards neededshifts in thinking.

                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                            Thanks for the balanced opinion, Sam.

                                                                            I don't have any irrational fear of science or progress (I work in technology for chrissakes), I just wish they'd give it a little more time before they pronounced it safe. As far as I understand it, they've only been cloning mammals for 10 years, so the long-term effects on animals (and the people who eat their offspring) can't be known yet. There also aren't that many cloned animals out there yet, so I'd worry about the sample size of these studies.

                                                                            I don't see any obvious benefit from eating cloned meat, so I'd rather wait and see before I introduce it into my diet. That's why I'd support labeling. Others who do see some benefit to eating it can feel free to do so.

                                                                            1. re: oolah

                                                                              I guess a point is that science knows about genetics and reproduction. Cloning of animals is simply a developing technique to get identical embyos (reproduction). Cloning has relatively little to do with genetics--other than human selection of human-desired phenotypes (in this case of bulls and cows).

                                                                            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                              Sam, in the interest of balance, I think that it should be noted that the science policies of some governments are somewhat driven and colored by their trade policies and sometimes go hand in hand with protectionism. This is true particularly with Japan and the EU which have used them to block US products from their markets.

                                                                              1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                Good scientists everywhere are usually anti-government and anti-asinine policy. The training of scientists requires objectivity and separation from special interests. It is inherently more difficult to corrupt trained scientists than, say, ....

                                                                                Trade policy is simply self-interest at the national level.

                                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                  Granted. Easily. I'm perfectly willing to blame it on the diplomats and trade representative for the various countries and organizations. They write up the "conclusions" from the work of the good scientists to suit their purposes.

                                                                                  It's amazing how much of everything is self-interest if you follow it back to the source.

                                                                          2. re: rworange

                                                                            Who would you trust to write those labels? You don't seem to trust anyone.

                                                                            Where are you getting your information from? How do you know it isn't being filtered? Where are they getting their data? Why do you trust that person's analysis? Are they trying to influence (spin) you to a particular point of view?
                                                                            You admit that maybe you don't read enough government studies. Those things are deadly dull and most of us don't have the skills to understand them. At some point, we have to rely on honest evaluations. You won't get that if you only listen to one side of the story.

                                                                            Look at the total confusion and lack of informed opinion about this topic on CH. Most people did not understand the government's original statement that was relayed poorly by the media. Add the knee-jerk reactions by people who expect to find cloned meat in the supermarket this weekend. They have been preconditioned to believe horror stories.

                                                                            The responsibility for that belongs to those who have made careers and a lot of money from persuading the public that the government and business cannot be trusted and that our food supply is not safe.

                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                              It's not an unsupported theory -- just read this thread!

                                                                              The question is: why single out meat from the offspring of cloned cattle? By doing so you're implying that it should be considered riskier than other, non-labeled products, even when there's absolutely no proof of any such risk. Basically, it's suspect because it's new and unfamiliar -- rather like the examples you just gave of people's attitudes toward organic diets and Chinese medicine (in fact, your argument supports my position, not yours).

                                                                              If your desire is to be an informed consumer, then you should be calling for labels detailing every possible risk of every single thing we use or consume.

                                                                              I'll give you one good reason against it: it would be a paperwork nightmare to follow every single animal from conception (all those mama cows look pretty much the same to me!) to the supermarket shelf. Even organic animals only have to be monitored after they're born!

                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                I would trust the label to say 'cloned' just as a label says 'organic', 'angus', 'grass-fed', etc. Then if someone lies, you have it in print. They can even put it in tiny print.

                                                                                There was a hue and cry about how impossible our current food labels would be when they were first proposed. It was said it would bankrupt some businesses ... well ...

                                                                                There is pretty tight control currently over where food originates. You can track down spinach to the field it was grown in. I know from working in the health food industry we could track every ingrediant for every single vitamin produced. There are already food recalls where we have detailed information about where that bad hamburger originated and it can be followed back to the ranch.

                                                                                I don't know if cloning is a risk. You and no one in this thread has any proof it is not a risk. I want to make that decision on my own.

                                                                                There is nothing I could do about HFCS being introduced into most of our food supply. But I do have labels that indicate is it used. For the people who consider it risk-free, they can choose to buy those products. I'm not stopping anyone. I can choose not to buy them and vote with my purchasing power.

                                                                                Makingsense I said no such thing as admitting I don't read government studies. It is you who are saying "Those things are deadly dull and most of us don't have the skills to understand them."

                                                                                I don't think you would know enough about me or other people who might choose to take action on this issue to make a guess at that. Actually what I do for a living is deadly dull to some people while I enjoy it.

                                                                                Also if you re-read my posts I have repeatedly said I was not considering one source. For all your questions, back at you ... those are also questions you should be able to answer.

                                                                                As oolah has said, this is an infant industry, barely more than a decade old. There is no way the safety ... or lack of it ... can possibly be known at this point.

                                                                                Those who would rather not participate ... other than going vegetarian ... really vegan if you think about it ... should have the option of making that decision.

                                                                                And Sam ... I feel bad about some of the statements about the research and scientific community because I know more than a few people in that community and they are the good guys. I don't know you, yet from what I've read on the board you are one of the good guys I would guess.

                                                                                However it is that small percent who are either greedy or arrogant that cause me to be careful about whole-heartily buying the unproven or badly documented ... the few rotten apples, so to speak.

                                                                                I don't think cloning will happen tommorrow. However, I think the government is sticking its toe in the water to test if it is hot. Those of us with concerns should boil the water until concerns are addressed before it is too late.

                                                                                I am not against any science or advance. Some of the arguments here about things like ... well, without going through this whole thread ... in-vitro fertilization sticks in my mind. That again is a matter of personal choice. What someone chooses or doesn't choose doesn't concern me.

                                                                                This does. This takes the power of choice away from me. For those who believe there is a higher power, a good many religions believe God gave us free will and he/she trusts even the lowliest of us with the power of choice.

                                                                                Another question I have is "What do I get out of this". Yep. Selfish. I know those who will be involved in this industry stand to profit.

                                                                                I have not read how this benefits me. Will I get tastier meat? Will the prices of meat plumment? Is it a step towards resolving world hunger?

                                                                                If so, please give me links to anything that says any of that will happen or how it benefits me in any way.

                                                                                So why rush into this? Why not develop the industry slowly and carefully. What is the benefit to me to do otherwise? What is the risk to me if it isn't pushed at me against my will as quickly as possible?

                                                                                Or will it just give the fast food industry and other food suppliers cheaper supplies so they can up their profit margin? Maybe someone can provide a link that says how these industries are excited about being able to lower prices for their customers.

                                                                                I am not against cloning. I am against not being informed about what I am eating not being labeled as such.

                                                                                1. re: rworange

                                                                                  You actually said: "if I read enough government studies that seem credible and evaluate it with other information I might serve myself up a dish of tasty clone."
                                                                                  None of us is asking that. All that is reasonable is for you and others to learn enough to be able to evaluate the situation without jumping to conclusions. That doesn't mean that anyone requires that you accept it, only that you do not make misleading accusations about the government, the process that the government uses for analysis and approval, the cattle breeding process, the food marketing system or food safety in the US --- before you learn the facts.

                                                                                  The labels you give as examples (Angus, grass-fed, organic) are voluntary; no one has to raise organic or Angus beef but they do because they are value-added products.
                                                                                  If there is no scientific evidence that a cloned animal is any different than a non-cloned animal, there should be no more reason to label it than there would be to label the meat by the color of the animal from which it came, e.g. brown cow, black and white cow.
                                                                                  When the labeling requirement for foods were enacted, nobody went bankrupt because they raised prices if they couldn't absorb the costs.

                                                                                  Please start by learning how the government approves things. For food, it is not necessary to provide what you persist in requiring: "proof it is not a risk." No one has even "proven" that carrots are "not a risk," yet they are widely available and even recommended. And they are not labeled.
                                                                                  There are different rules for drugs and other things that we are not discussing here.

                                                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                    Interpretation. I read a lot of government reports. They don't seem credible or answer my concern.

                                                                                    Again, the rest is your interpretation of what I said and a reflection of your own understanding how things work. I have had different life experiences and am hardly jumping to conclusions.

                                                                                    As I mentioned I worked a long time in the health food industry and am not unaware of how the US government approves things. The company also sold food products like soups, meals and health bars.

                                                                                    Since that particular company was international I also have a very good understanding about how other governments approve things.

                                                                                    The entire line being sold had to be reformulated for Canada because the Canadian government has higher standards than the US.

                                                                                    Carrots have been eaten for as long as man has found them edible. It is not a new thing. This is a new thing little more than a decade old. There are no long term examples of what will or will not happen ... unlike the carrot.

                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                      It might be less judgmental to say that Canada has "different," rather than "higher" standards, which is what many people involved in international trade prefer to say when discussing the regulations of other nations. Your experience with one company is actually the norm, particularly with labeling as every country has different requirements.

                                                                                      It is likely that working in the "health food industry" for "a long time" causes you to view this entire issue from one particular point of view. It does put your comments into perspective.
                                                                                      You are indeed not jumping to conclusions because you have already made them and are unwilling to change them even in the face of evidence because you question the validity and source of any evidence that challenges your beliefs.

                                                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                        Again, I would be interested in what makes you so optomisitic. What exactly is your experience?

                                                                                        And let me repeat. I am eternaly, naively hopeful. It bites me it the ass over and over. So be while I continue to be hopeful that good will triumph., I need to have the facts to determine what I should do for myself.

                                                                                        In this particular issue, I don't have enough facts to make an informed decision. No one in this thread has provided any links that expand upon my knowledge of this.

                                                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                                                          The facts as we know them:
                                                                                          --The USDA is looking for public input.
                                                                                          --There is an industry moratorium on the sale of what little meat there may be from experimental cloned animals in existence.
                                                                                          --There is an expectation that cloned animals will be so expensive that they will only be used for breeding stock.
                                                                                          --If the public input demands it, it may well be that the USDA will require labeling for what little very expensive cloned meat reaches retail.
                                                                                          --There is little likelihood that you will accidentally grab any of this from a meat case anytime in the near future.

                                                                                          What informed decision do you need to make? Write the USDA and tell them what you think.

                                                                2. What bothers me about GM food is really helps large scale agriculture and hurts small farmers. GM seeds are created and pattened so the seed is sterile. It will grow a plant, but that plant's seed cannot reproduce. So, instead of saving seeds from previous year's crops to grow new plants, farmers are forced to buy new seeds and plants every year.

                                                                  GM seeds also have negative effects on the environment. When GM pollen from these plants gets spread around in nature, it usually has negative effects on the environment as well. Plant spieces are endangered because of this inability to reproduce on their own, which also adversely effects the local wildlife.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: adventuresinbaking

                                                                    True, but genetic modification and cloning are two completely separate things.

                                                                    1. re: adventuresinbaking

                                                                      Sorry, but hybrids resulting from wide crosses loose their potential and seed needs to be re-purchased. This is the nature of hybrids. Most genetic modifications to not lead to sterile seed. The many GM improvements that we (the international ag research centers) work on are specifically to help small poor farmers in the developing world--and are provided as public rather than private goods.

                                                                      Cross pollination is a major concern, and one that is being carefully addressed. Use of Bt cotton results in far less pesticide use and much less peripheral and ecological damage than traditional pesticide use.

                                                                    2. On a religious standpoint I'm against cloning in general (and also way too many sci-fi movies.) However, I totally support the FDA in approving the meat. I learned that a cloned creature has DNA the exact same age as its original counterpart thus, the animal is technically "old" and has a tendency to die younger than it normally would. There is nothing wrong with eating meat from the child of a cloned animal as since it would still be as if the original cow had the child- there is no genetic variation. A poster had brought up how it was scary that some genes turn off but that is a naturally occurring thing in all creatures. People diversify because genes naturally turn off or turn on to display and read. It doesn't occur more in clones or anything it happens all the time and if your DNA encodes for the wrong thing then the animal dies.

                                                                      1. Great discussion from all sides of this major issue...wondering though what it will be like when that first slab of cloned beef is served at your favorite steakhouse or chain for that matter...

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: gutreactions

                                                                          Can I pay for it with money that if cloned on my copier?

                                                                          1. re: gutreactions

                                                                            Amazing. After all this discussion, people are still referring to eating a "slab of cloned beef" -- which is a complete misstatement of the issue.

                                                                            Although I did hear on the radio this morning that they cloned a beating rat heart. Maybe actual cloned meat (meat that is grown in a lab from cloned cells) isn't that far in the future after all.

                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                              FWIW, the rat heart wasn't exactly the same thing that we're talking about here. They used embryonic stem cells and grafted them on to damaged hearts, what happened was that the ESCs rebuilt (more or less) the heart.

                                                                          2. I'm not sure where I stand on this issue. It seems that most people are not concerned with where their meat comes from ordinarily that it's hard to wrap my head around why they care now.

                                                                            1. The San Francisco Farmers market run by CUESA had this in today's weekly newsletter

                                                                              Cloned cuisine
                                                                              Both the FDA and the European Food Safety Authority announced this week that their scientific studies suggest that meat and milk from cloned livestock are safe to consume. Consumer groups are voicing their concerns about the determination.

                                                                              New York Times article about the declaration >
                                                                              http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/16/bus...

                                                                              Washington Post article about the declaration >
                                                                              http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                                                                              Official FDA information about cloning >
                                                                              http://www.fda.gov/cvm/cloning.htm

                                                                              Compilation of reactions to FDA’s determination at the Ethicurean blog >
                                                                              http://www.ethicurean.com/2008/01/16/...

                                                                              Labeling laws
                                                                              In a victory for consumer groups, the Pennsylvania Department of Food and Agriculture has amended a law passed in late 2007 that prohibited labeling milk products as coming from livestock that were not administered synthetic growth hormones.

                                                                              Philadelphia Inquirer article on the subject >
                                                                              http://www.philly.com/philly/news/200...

                                                                              Meanwhile, the USDA is soliciting public comments for a potential “naturally raised” certification for livestock.

                                                                              Chicago Tribune article on the subject >
                                                                              http://www.chicagotribune.com/busines...

                                                                              1. Science is getting very close to being able to create an entire steak in a petri dish. Scientists are already getting very thin layers of muscle to grow apart from any animal. I look forward to the day my tenderloin comes from an organic lab in vermont rather than a cow.

                                                                                And on that note - I'm not worried about cloning. Since researching it I understand that a twin is a clone. And that many twins are deformed or die in the womb and are absorbed by the other sibling. So the fact that many of the cloned animals are deformed or may die young isn't surprising.

                                                                                I doubt very seriously that organic meat companies will get involved in cloning any time soon (and that is where I get my meat).

                                                                                From what I've heard and read, labeling is just probably not going to happen because in order to label that meat is 'clone free' there would have to be a 100% guarantee and, as I've understood, that is nearly impossible if clones are allowed into the meat source pool.

                                                                                20 Replies
                                                                                1. re: krissywats

                                                                                  "I doubt very seriously that organic meat companies will get involved in cloning any time soon (and that is where I get my meat)."

                                                                                  So when you eat at restaurants and friends houses and pot lucks at work you only eat organic meat?

                                                                                  One other potential problem with cloning is too much genetic similarity. Isn't threre a good reason we can't marry our first cousins?

                                                                                  On the general board I linked ot a popular science article about bananas which are in danger of becoming extict in 5 - 10 years. Man has been manipulating bananas for a long time so that most bananas are genetically the same.

                                                                                  Before 1960 we were eating a totally different banana than we do today, called '"Big Mike". A fungus wiped them out. The Cavandish we have today is currently being attacked by another fungus. They are so in-bred they can't resist the fungus.

                                                                                  Wouldn't meat that is too genetically the same be suseptible to disease and suffer a similar fate?

                                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                                    Yes, bananas produced for the European and North American markets are relatively narrow genetically and are subject to fungal diseases.

                                                                                    There is, however, considerable banana agrobiodiversity in both traditional banana and plantain cultivars in the tropics--in Africa, India, Latin America--and in wild relatives. The threat to wild relatives is deforestation.

                                                                                    Overall, there is a lot of work going on to conserve banana biodiversity. Bananas will not become extinct in 5 -10 years.

                                                                                    Cloned breed stock coming from one or a few individuals will represent a narrow genetic range. You would have to kill off other normally bred cattle in the world, however, to dangerously reduce cattle genetic diversity.

                                                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                                                      not marrying cousins is cultural, not biological. in many cultures marrying a cousin is quite normal; in many native american cultures your cross cousin in the preferred mate. It is only unsafe if some recessive trait is carried by both cousins.
                                                                                      that being said it does'nt really apply to cloning in as much as the organism you get is the same as the one you had before. It is neither more or less likely to develop disease as the parent organism. It's the same.

                                                                                      yes we have had these problems with corn and bananas and other crops that we have eliminated different strains from, which is why there is now a huge international effort to build seed banks of differing strains. Indeed we have that problem with livestock already. Cloning can as easily help cure the problem as exacerbate it - if we clone rarer stock, instead of stock we have lots and lots of.

                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                        Actually rworange is correct when it comes to this. While it is a major cultural taboo and other cultures may marry their cousins it is genetically unfit. The survival rates of children born to parents that are first cousins is significantly less than other parents. That's because it is necessary for their to be genetic variation when producing offspring. However, most cows who mate share similar genetics anyways so I doubt that it's going to make a difference. Also, animals are a lot different than plants, obviously, and often they'll carry traits that will prevent such a disease from wiping them out.

                                                                                        1. re: digkv

                                                                                          it is only genetically unfit if that family carries recessive genes that cause harm. If there are no such genes in their gene pool there is no harm - the genes don't know if you're cousins or not. We are not that different from cows, dogs, and horses, all of whom we breed within their family for generations at a time.

                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                            Well, it's not necessarily only recessive. Inbreeding increases homozygoty (AA or aa) and decreases heterozygoty (Aa). Often times heterozygotes have the advantage in fighting disease (like sickle cell anemia and malaria) so it is beneficial to have both. Thus, there are major problems in inbreeding. Also, there are genetic studies that show that the offspring of first cousins have a lower fitness rates. I doubt, however, that any of this would have an effect on cloned cows.

                                                                                            1. re: digkv

                                                                                              id like to see those studies.. as i said .. there are cultures all over that encourage marriage of 1st cousins, including many Native Americans, where your cross cousin was your ideal mate...

                                                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                                                It's actually straight from my Bio textbook with a little chart that showed a study of deaths of children from different countries due to first cousin marriages and non-relative marriages and compared the results. I know that many cultures find that first cousin marriages are fine, and it's mostly due to a lineage thing where they really don't see there first cousin as their relative. However, genetically speaking, it's not real safe for your children if you want to have them with your cousin.

                                                                                                1. re: digkv

                                                                                                  i can only speak anecdotaly, but there was no such restriction amongst European Jews (and yes they saw them as relatives, just not as incest) so i have a few sets of relatives who are married cousins, as well as their kids and grandkids.... not a big enough sample to mean anything - but there don't seem to be any health issues outside the norm in any of them.

                                                                                                  1. re: digkv

                                                                                                    Parallel cousins are always seen as relatives. In some cases, cross cousins are not seen as relatives.

                                                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                      Well actually it depends if it's a matrilineal society or a patrilineal society. In matrilineal, only your mother's side is seen as your relative so you can marry your cousins who are on your dad's side. I think restricting it simply to parallel and cross cousins doesn't apply to all societies.

                                                                                                  2. re: thew

                                                                                                    Cross-cousin marraige in some traditional socoeties was accompanied by complex kinship systems (and terminologies). The "reason" for such marriage had to do with access to resources, in part via inheritance, and with the creation of strategic, kin-based alliances. Such marriages, while "allowed" in such systems, were hardly the norm for most tpeople.

                                                                                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                      well its a good 30 years since i was an anthropology major, but as i recall, amongst the iroquois nations , and in parts of southern india, and perhaps somewhere in the navaho/hopi complex, but im not sure about that one, it was not only allowed, but preferred, to marry ones cross cousin. They were considered ones ideal match. ah hell its the 21st century let me check google.

                                                                                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iroquois...

                                                                                                      not bad after 30 years lol

                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                        Well, I won't argue with the two of you. My Phd was in agricultural and ecological anbthropology after starting in social and cultural. On the other hand, I'm quite certain about a) the general taboo on parallel cousin marriage and b) the lack of correlation between matrilineal and non-recognition of patrilineal kinship.

                                                                                              2. re: digkv

                                                                                                Digkv, both you and rworange are incorrect about the first cousins' argument.

                                                                                                Or, you are reciting an old argument with little basis in scientific research. Five years ago, both the New York Times and Discover magazine reported there is little additional risk in birth defects for the offspring of first cousins:

                                                                                                Few Risks Seen To the Children Of 1st Cousins
                                                                                                "Contrary to widely held beliefs and longstanding taboos in America, first cousins can have children together without a great risk of birth defects or genetic disease, scientists are reporting today. They say there is no biological reason to discourage cousins from marrying."
                                                                                                http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage...

                                                                                                Go Ahead, Kiss Your Cousin -- Heck, Marry Her If You Want To
                                                                                                "The National Society of Genetic Counselors announced that cousin marriages are not significantly riskier than any other marriage...The study, published in the Journal of Genetic Counseling last year, determined that children of first cousins face about a 2 to 3 percent higher risk of birth defects than the population at large. To put it another way, first-cousin marriages entail roughly the same increased risk of abnormality that a woman undertakes when she gives birth at 41 rather than at 30."
                                                                                                http://discovermagazine.com/2003/aug/...

                                                                                                The cloning debate will, of course, continue, but the "first cousins" argument cannot be used for the "con" side.

                                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                  That's real interesting to see and may be something I'll be mentioning to my professor. However, I think the main thing is like thew has said, that there is a major problem if there is a recessive gene in there. While it may not affect an individual, it will most certainly have a great effect on the gene pool. Inbreeding keep homozygotic traits to be prevalent so if 2 cousins both with sickle cell anemia get married and that family just keeps inbreeding then they are producing an unsafe gene pool of sickle cell anemia- a recessive trait. It's best not to have children with cousins as it eliminates the chance of having common genetic coding for diseases.

                                                                                                  1. re: digkv

                                                                                                    You're repeating the old argument. Read the new studies. The risk is only 3% greater in cousins.

                                                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                      I just read them, and they reaffirm what I said: "The great hazard of inbreeding is that it can result in the unmasking of deleterious recessives, to use the clinical language of geneticists. Each of us carries an unknown number of genes—an individual typically has between five and seven—capable of killing our children or grandchildren. These so-called lethal recessives are associated with diseases like cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anemia."

                                                                                                      I'm not saying that it's going to affect cows or anything but there is something people should be wary of. It's this "inbreeding" that creates diseases within certain racial communities and lineages. It's because of "inbreeding" that diseases often prevail- the studies are talking about genetic defects but genetic diseases are increased when inbreeding occurs. It's why the people of Pingelap Atoll have such a high case of achromatopsia, one person on that island had it but due to a typhoon, a majority of the population died and that one person passed the trait on and inbreeding occurred so that the rates of that disease on that island are staggering.

                                                                                            2. re: rworange

                                                                                              The genetic similarity argument quickly becomes moot since clones are being used as breeding stock to produce cattle for beef. They're raised for slaughter not for carrying on the herd. End of the line.

                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                I don't eat meat when I eat out unless I know it's organic. So, yes.

                                                                                            3. Most organic and specialty meat is in essence cloned anyway. We're talking about offspring of cloned animals; we don't slaughter and eat prime breeding animals today, and I doubt the "clones" will become food either.

                                                                                              The way I understand it, clones are there to replace aging "perfect" breeding animals. I forget what steakhouse it is that has pictures of the breeding bull it owns, but obviously that animal will age and become hamburger (older animals don't taste very good) and could be replaced by a clone.

                                                                                              Some clone offspring have physical and health problems, but I don't see any way this threatens the food supply. What it probably means is there will be more and cheaper prime and organic beef and pork.

                                                                                              I dunno what labeling would prove. Warning: This beef came from an animal whose mother was inseminated by sperm from a cloned animal.