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Cloned Meat May Already Have Invaded Our Food Supply, Posing Alarming Health Risks

It's just a matter of time before we are eating clones, if we are not eating them now.

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The "slight mammary development" in a 4 1⁄2 month old Jersey calf? Such precociousness "sometimes occurs in conventional heifers if they are overfed."

The rats fed cloned meat and milk who exhibited greater "frequency of vocalization," a signal of emotional response? It was probably "incidental and unrelated to treatment," says the report.

Cloned meat samples that show "altered" fatty acid composition and delta-9 desaturase? "No comparisons were made with historical reference values for either milk or meat," says the report. Maybe it's an overall trend in meat and milk...

Worse, the report relies on government regulation-as-usual to catch clone aberrations in the food supply. Nutrition Labeling Requirements will determine if clone milk is okay says the report since "determining whether animal clones are producing a hazardous substance in their milk although theoretically possible, is highly impractical." (We can inject a nucleus into an egg but can't analyze milk?)

And the hapless and sick throwaways that are cloning's bycatch? Those animals won't be a threat to the food supply says the FDA report, because they die at birth. And if they don't die but remain sickly, they'll be kept out the food supply by the same slaughterhouse inspectors who kept out mad cows, Hallmark school lunch cows and E. coli. Bon appetit.

"According to the three standards used to determine if cloned food is safe -- nutrition, toxicology and chemical composition -- eating cancerous tissue or pus would also be safe," Dr. Shiv Chopra, a veterinarian, microbiologist and human rights activist told AlterNet when we asked about cloned food safety. It is like the wide-scale and unlabeled bovine growth hormone used to produce milk "in which a cow gene was inserted into E. coli," says Dr. Chopra -- a huge experiment conducted on the public.

Even meat and restaurant interests agree with Dr. Chopra in written comments about cloning on the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) web site.

Despite the science, there is an "important limitation" to cloning projections says Coldiretti, Italy's largest farming interest group: "The impossibility to make prediction (sic) on a long term base. The 'Inquiry into BSE' [Mad Cow] shows how no scientists had been able to foresee the problems connected to the practice of recycling animal proteins in herbivores feeding. The BSE prion needed around 50 years to develop."

CLITRAVI, the Brussels-based European Association for the Meat Processing Industry concurs. "In the light of EFSA's own clearly expressed concerns regarding animal health and animal welfare, we take the view that further research is needed before offsprings of cloned animals are used for any purpose whatsoever, included medical," it wrote.

The US-based Union of Concerned Scientists agrees that more research about cloning is necessary -- not to mention labeling. "The choice of whether to purchase such foods should be in the hands of individual consumers, not the government or the industry. Consumers will have such a choice only if the foods are labeled," says the 250,000-member nonprofit science group.

In defending cloning, the FDA, Big Meat and Biotech claim its negatives are no worse than in vitro fertilization and other Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) techniques already entrenched in factory farms, and that it will aid "world hunger." Animal suffering is downplayed by simply not counting the animals who don't make it in final figures leading the World Society for the Protection of Animals to observe that welfare and mortality are not just risks for surviving clones but effects that "occur in a large proportion of surrogate dams and clones."

While the FDA admits that clone calves that "die or are euthanized due to poor health" are rendered into animal feed byproducts that present "possible risks" to food animals and the people who eat them, it is less worried about healthy clones. Healthies are "unlikely" to be used for human food "given their potential value as breeding stock" or even used as animal food, "except through rendering of dead clones that occurred at parturition or by accident."

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