Cloned Cows May Be For Sale

US - For nearly four years, dairy farmer Greg Wiles has poured milk from his cloned cows down the drain in compliance with a voluntary ban on food from cloned livestock.
calendar icon 28 March 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
Now in financial straits, Wiles says he may be forced to sell his cloned cows for hamburger.

The Food and Drug Administration says that's probably safe, but pressure from the food industry has kept the agency from actually approving it. Milk and meat marketers worry that consumers won't accept food from cloned animals.

Wiles says he can't wait any longer. Facing eviction in a bitter family business dispute, he says he may be forced to violate the ban and sell his two clones for hamburger meat.

"If I don't find a new home for these animals for them to live out their lifetime, I could be forced by a court of law to introduce them into the food chain," Wiles says.

The failure, so far, to approve cloned animals for the food supply raises a quandary for consumers. The federal government has no way to stop a farmer such as Wiles from selling meat or milk from cloned animals. That means no one can be sure the food supply is free of them.

The dairy industry says there are at least 150 livestock clones living in the United States. A single dairy cow makes about 128 glasses of milk every day. Cows that stop producing milk are often sold to ground beef plants, where a single dairy cow can be turned into more than 3,000 hamburger patties.

Consumer advocates say the government should never have let cloned animals live on commercial farms in the first place.

"Who knows whether people adhere to the voluntary moratorium or not?" says Joseph Mendelson of the Center for Food Safety, an environmental and public health group. "That's the problem with a system that relies on the good graces of everyone."

Resistance in the industry is a big reason that the government has taken so long to decide. FDA officials have repeatedly said that food from cloned animals appears to be as safe as conventional food. They say they are close to making a decision and could act by the end of the year.

Source: Journal
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