Future 2049: Clone My Meal

2 September 09

Below is the sixth ‘prediction’ in an 8 part series on “The Future in 2049”:

Cloning, once the purview of hardcore genetic scientists, is now a mandatory course taught when becoming a food scientist. And why not? In 2021, cloning was approved as a means for improving our food capacity problem and deemed completely safe. With the population greatly increased and land at a premium as a result, it is widely accepted that cloning is a great solution to better engineering food. Like our plants and vegetables that have been genetically modified for years (pluot anyone? Brocciflower?), now meats, chicken and fish are enhanced and reproduced, to create new, healthy, protein SUPERFOODS. With the taboo of cloning long past and the fear of human clones now seen as a science fiction fear (although we do clone body PARTS for regenerative reasons, amputees, surgeries etc). Cloning is a part of food-life and seen as a smart way to manage the food supply. Like plants that can be grown bigger and become more resistant to disease, cloned protein food acts much in the same way and are grown pre-enriched with vitamins than every before.

(Cloned) Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner

16 January 08

cloned cows

Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed its earlier approval for meat and milk from cloned cows, pigs, and goats to enter the U.S. food supply (it provided preliminary approval in December of 2006). After seven years of research, the agency released a report in which they state that it’s “unlikely” there is any difference between the safety of food from clones and their progeny and that of food from animals bred using more traditional methods (you know, the birds and the bees). While it would currently be cost prohibitive to clone animals for food (it costs between $15000 and $20000 to clone a single animal), farmers hope to use cloning to increase the quality of their breeding stock.

The ethics of cloning aside, the announcement has sparked a heated debate in the public. Some argue that this is simply a new technology and that it would be silly to ignore its potential just because it has to do with animals and not, say, mobile phones. Others argue that this “technology” is too new and that the FDA should perform more studies before  making a final call – studies similar to those performed on drugs and other medical technologies.

The other big debate is over whether or not food should be labeled as having come from a cloned animal or its progeny. Farmers and advocates of cloning argue that labeling food would essentially kill the market for cloned food before it has a chance to succeed, while opponents argue that any potential safety recalls would be impossible unless cloned foods were labeled and tracked. The FDA’s official stance:

The agency is not requiring labeling or any other additional measures for food from cattle, swine, and goat clones, or their offspring because food derived from these sources is no different from food derived from conventionally bred animals.

Whichever side of the debate you’re on – this development raises some interesting questions.  Read the rest of this entry »