Britain's Cloned Beef Wars

By Marion Nestle
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Fiona MacGinty/flickr


According to a report in Food Chemical News (August 17), Britain's National Beef Association wants the country's beleaguered Food Standards Agency to allow sales of meat from cattle with a cloned grandparent.

Why? Since the rest of the European Union and the United States allow sales of meat, milk, and other food products from animals with cloned grandparents, it's not fair to Britain's beef industry to prevent such sales.

The British public now knows that meat from imported cloned animals has entered their food supply. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says those cloned animals came from Wisconsin.

This is possible because the U.S. allows cloning. It just wishes producers of cloned animals would hold off a bit until the international regulatory situation is clarified. They have not held off. The Journal Sentinel writes:

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate milk or meat from offspring of cloned animals and doesn't require labeling. Two years after the agency concluded those food products were safe, they're in the American food supply.

However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requests that the industry continue a voluntary moratorium on placing products from original clones in the food supply to allow trade partners in other countries to pursue their own regulations.

Offspring of clones—including the animals that are the focus of British news reports—are not subject to the voluntary moratorium, and are not identified through a U.S. program that tracks clones. The clone offspring linked to the United Kingdom's food supply were identified by the U.K.'s Food Standards Agency.

The British regulations distinguish between selling meat from cloned animals (banned) and meat from children or grandchildren of cloned animals (murky).

Our FDA doesn't care one way or the other. It says cloned meat is safe, which it well might be. But if you prefer not to buy it, too bad for you. The FDA does not require cloned meat to be labeled in any special way.

Organic, locally grown meat, anyone?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/08/britains-cloned-beef-wars/61714/