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Biotech Government Politics

Bill Would Require Labels on Cloned Food 251

ComeBack writes "Steaks, pork chops, milk and other products from cloned livestock would have to be clearly labeled on grocers' shelves under a bill pending in the California Legislature. If passed, the requirement could be more stringent than federal rules. The Food and Drug Administration is poised to give final approval to meat and milk from cloned animals without any special labeling, though a bill introduced in Congress would require it."
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Bill Would Require Labels on Cloned Food

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  • by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) * <> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:22PM (#18790647)
    Mini-Me: Are you a clone of an angel?

    Foxxy Cleopatra: Ohhh how sweet. No, my mini-man, I'm not.

    Mini-Me: Are you sure you don't have a little clone in you?

    Foxxy Cleopatra: Yes I'm sure.

    Mini-Me: Would you like to?
  • Somewhat surprising (Score:5, Informative)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:28PM (#18790735) Journal
    Just recently, the FDA has quietly changed the labeling requirements on using irradiation to package food with. Now, It is called pasteurization. Yup, just like Milk's process (which simply flash heats and cools the milk).

    Do not get me wrong. I have no qualm about eating irradiated food. But I do believe that I should get to know what I am eating. As it is, it bother me that the markets are required to show that a fish comes from china (as it should), but a dog food with imported products such as Wheat Glutin can be labeled as made in America/Canada.
    • I think that is the key: Don't limit the selection, just force makers to CLEARLY label what you are buying, including country of orgin, contents, and any "unusual" methods of handling or origin, just as iradiation, gm, cloning, etc.
    • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:47PM (#18791001) Homepage Journal
      I've read some libertarian postings that propose a complete and accurate information should be the only regulation that government imposes on business. Besides the problems that that poses as far as infrastructure and business cost, I can't think of a problem with it.

      If we left labeling solely up to corporations, all we would get would be informationless, quasi-inaccurate or misleading feel-good marketing BS, or no labeling at all. Marketing is emotional manipulation, not factual communication. Back in the good old days, before the FDA, if a plant worker fell in the meat-processing machinery, a lot of people would wind up eating human flesh from a can of pork. I guess I can't say I would have a problem avoiding a can of meat that contained some amount of human flesh, so long as it was accurately labeled ;)
      • If we left labeling solely up to corporations, all we would get would be informationless, quasi-inaccurate or misleading feel-good marketing BS, or no labeling at all.

        If the "corporations" are using inaccurate or misleading labeling or advertising then they're committing fraud, and the courts can handle that under common law without any special regulation. If they omit the labeling entirely, on the other hand, and don't make any other claims regarding what they're selling, then the buyer has no recourse

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Azghoul ( 25786 )
        It occurs to me, as a relatively rabid libertarian, that your "informationless, quasi-inaccurate or misleading feel-good marketing BS" should be regarded as fraud, pure and simple.

        The only question is how much labeling is enough/too much? How much risk must there be to trigger the warning label?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Back in the good old days, before the FDA, if a plant worker fell in the meat-processing machinery, a lot of people would wind up eating human flesh from a can of pork.

        [citation needed]

        (please disregard my sig for the duration of this thread...)

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by lawpoop ( 604919 )
          From Upton Sinclair's The Jungle []:

          "Worst of any, however, were the fertilizer men, and those who served in the cooking rooms. These people could not be shown to the visitor,--for the odor of a fertilizer man would scare any ordinary visitor at a hundred yards, and as for the other men, who worked in tank rooms full of steam, and in some of which there were open vats near the level of the floor, their peculiar trouble was that they fell into the vats; and when they were fished out, there was never enough o
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Hobbex ( 41473 )

            The Jungle is a novel (and an activist novel at that), not really a reliable source. According to Wikipedia (which of course isn't a reliable source either): "Ironically, the only claim that was unsubstantiated by the report was the claim that workers, whom had fallen into the giant lard vats, were left in these vats and were consequently being made into Durham's Pure Leaf Lard- by far the most influential, revolting, and striking passage in the book."

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by lawpoop ( 604919 )
              Well, the novel claims to be non-fiction. If Sinclair had written this, and it wasn't true, why didn't the meat packing industry sue him for libel? Think of how much monetary damage he caused the meat industry by writing that book. Nobody could be sure that they weren't eating human flesh when they bought canned meat or lard!
      • by tOaOMiB ( 847361 )
        While there should technically be nothing wrong with the extra information, it turns out it can hurt more than help. Most people wouldn't know what to do with all the information being provided, and would be much happier with someone else making the decision of what to buy for them. People don't have the time, the ability, or the inclination to become fully informed enough to make the right decision--and printing all this information would hide (in plain sight) warnings the FDA really should require.

    • Just recently, the FDA has quietly changed the labeling requirements on using irradiation to package food with. Now, It is called pasteurization. Yup, just like Milk's process (which simply flash heats and cools the milk).

      Actually, they got approval to label it cold pasteurization, which is exactly what it is.
    • It's nice in theory to say "label everything" but that's obviously impractical -- you have to choose the thing you think are important to know and label those for those items. For example, I'm guessing you don't care about the particular breed or age of the cows making your milk. But someone might -- should we label for that?

      The intent of pasturization is to produce a large-scale reduction in the number of micro-organisms in food. Both heat and ionizing radiation can accomplish that with proven reliabilty.
  • ...because just about everything in the whole store would have a sticker on it.

    Apples? Cloned. Potatos? Cloned. Bannanas? Cloned.
    Most commercial strawberries are propagated via runners.
    Corn is a freak hybrid. Always has been.

    And yet a bunch of kook Californians are trying to use cloning to stoke fear in consumers.

    Never say the hard left isn't as anti-scientific as the hard right.
    • by mcrbids ( 148650 )
      I agree!

      In fact, if all food that was cloned had to be labelled as such, people would very quickly "get over it" and desensitize.

      Then, it's game over for the anti-clonistas.
    • ... well except for the hybrid. on []

      This form of reproduction is not natural for animals (except maybe geeks). Cloning should be labelled because there are a bunch of unknowns and unnatural processes involved. Apart from potential health issues there are also ethical ones. As a consumer I might choose to not support cloning.

    • by lawpoop ( 604919 )
      Can you tell me more about the hybrid nature of corn? I had read that it was a few mutations different from its wild cousin, Teosinte. Or are you saying that most of the corn grown around the world is a modern hybrid of existing corn varieties?
    • Just because you don't like it, doesn't make it untrue. Fruits these days are produced by taking a piece of plant and causing it to grow roots. How else do you think they get things like seedless grapes? The cloning is desirable as it gives a more uniform result, and people are fans of consistency in their products.

      It may not involve test tubes, but that doesn't mean it's not cloning. We've been screwing with plant and animal genetics for years through processes like selective breeding. The processes are ju
  • I'm not for markets, but I do know how they work. They require the consumer to have full knowledge of the products they might buy.

    As such I think that in this present society, all modified organisms (genetically modified via the addition or removal of genes or whatever) should be clearly labelled. Treatments (such as irradiation) should be clearly labelled and so on.

    Sure they can ring the company, but do you really think the company will tell the truth, or if they do say it such a manner that the consume
    • As an agrologist that grew up in the dairy industry, I can tell you right now this is one of the most laughable initiatives to come along in a long time. Too bad the people proposing this don't have half a clue about how we use genetics in the production of livestock products. THERE WILL BE NO MEAT OR MILK COMING FROM ANY CLONED ANIMALS FOR A LONG TIME. These people are wasting everyone's time.
      • Correct. At most, cloning would be used to extend breeding stock; I believe that while dolly had issues, her offspring didn't.
  • ...why aren't people complaining about the originals? After all, a clone is (literally) exactly the same.
  • other labels (Score:4, Insightful)

    by contrapunctus ( 907549 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:38PM (#18790849)
    All the following is IMHO.

    I think labels are a good thing; consumers can educate themselves if they want to and they have all the relevant info available.

    I think having food labeled whether it's genetically modified is also helpful.

    I'm always looking for food that has been obtained using fair trade practices.
    I also look for food that has been obtained using sustainable and eco-friendly practices.

    My only choices now are to go to the local organic/natural food store and internet stores, not only for food but for environmentally friendly household products (and others).
    • by AusIV ( 950840 )
      I generally agree. I couldn't care less whether or not the food I'm eating has been cloned, but if someone has a problem with eating cloned food, I think they ought to be able to know about it. I don't want to see the government banning cloned food (unless it turns out to pose a real health risk), but at the same time I don't think people ought to be in the dark about what they're eating.
  • cloning an unmodified strain of cattle, while not wise in terms of failsafing your herds, will at least produce the exact same natural cows.

    research has been showing genetically modified foods may be detrimental to your health, and yet no label for them.

    i guess government "concern for safety" only applies when the industry to be targetted doesnt have billions in revenues.
    • There's a scientific consensus that GM foods are safe [].

      We should listen to a "scientific consensus" when they say climate change will kill us all, but we shouldn't listen to them when they say GM foods are safe?
      • from your own little article:

        Nevertheless, the UCS[union of concerned scientists] concludes "the scientific evidence available to date, while encouraging, does not support the conclusion that genetically modified crops are intrinsically safe for health or the environment."

        I rest my case, they should require labeling.
        • I could very well make the same arguement for entirely NATURAL crops. Intrinsically safe is an incredably high bar. Not even over the counter pain relievers are that safe. You can kill yourself with aspirin if you try hard enough.

          Look at the whole spinach situation a while back.

          Sure, some dangers may be slightly different; but it wouldn't be approved if studies don't point towards it as being as safe as current methods.
          • point taken regarding "intrinsically safe", but this is the FDA we're talking about.

            in this recent decade many of the major pharmaceuticals they've "approved" have caused very severe and very publicised side effects (life threatening ones).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bongomanaic ( 755112 )

        There's a scientific consensus that GM foods are safe
        Which is probably true for those GM varieties that have been developed so far. However there are many other issues involved with the GM industry that are not so clear cut e.g. the long-term impact of introducing herbicide resistance, terminator genes and gene patents. Labelling GM food helps people who care about these issues to make informed choices and doesn't harm those who don't care.
  • Required? Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ZackSchil ( 560462 )
    Personally, if I were a dairy farmer, I'd start up a brand with cloning as a gimmick. Maybe even make a witty commercial with a uneducated-looking farmer talking about the intricacies of selecting only the best dairy cows that naturally produce the best milk, and then cloning the hell out of them.

    "That there's Bessy. She's the best cow we've ever had. Produces the best milk you've ever tasted, and lots of it too. So we had her cloned. That whole barn there is full of Bessys. Heck, it's better 'n pumpin'
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The problem is that usually it's the bull that's cloned because he has fathered goos dairy cows and only for the purpose of breeding.
      So the dairy cow isn't technically cloned.
      Now would the milk be labeled coned?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Werkhaus ( 549466 )
      >Personally, if I were a dairy farmer, I'd start up a brand with cloning as a gimmick.

      Already being done with beef cattle. 13.htm []
      In this case it's not a gimmick but a way to retain the same high-quality tenderness and flavour genes in his herd.

  • I could swear that i read this article on slashdot before ... i just can't find the link ...
  • I can't really see a reason against this except cost and regulation. Honestly I wouldn't care.

    Really it's not for you (unless you want it) it's for the people who are morally opposed to certain things. You can do it for Kosher food, why not have it for cloned food (and possibly genetically enhanced food). The fact is there's going to be people against cloned food, and those people will choose not to buy cloned food, why not make it easier so they don't have to bitch. Let them go be elitists.

    Personally I
    • I can look at the prices of Kosher hot dogs when compared with others and see the Kosher ones cost more. Now, I think Kosher hot dogs are a lot better, but they cost more. If the difference was the difference between skipping a meal or not, I might not want the extra cost.

      What a government mandated label, inspection, certification and all that goes with it means is that all products have the added expense. You see, whether or not some product is from a cloned animal, it would still need to be certified on
  • by NewsWatcher ( 450241 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:54PM (#18791093)
    My thoughts are that consumers SHOULD be aware of what they are eating, and they should be able to choose what to eat themselves. It may be that while not worried about the health impact of cloned meat, a consumer may have ethical concerns about scientists tinkering to produce cloned animals.

    What I want to know though, is what happens to the offspring of cloned animals? Is their meat also labelled? If the offspring were the result of a pairing of two cloned animals, then presumably they also have cloned genes floating through their bodies. If the parents are unhealthy, then presumably the offspring are too.

    What about the pairing of a cloned animal with an uncloned one? What do you do about their offspring?
    If an animals is just 1/4 or 1/8 or 1/256th cloned, does it still get a warning?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by foniksonik ( 573572 )
      If it's a clone it's a normal animal, if the procedure to do the cloning works correctly... with the same dna as it's older sibling, like somehow having twins that were born months or years apart. How that dna is expressed as genes and proteins, etc is not predetemined... so a cow cloned from a white cow with a big black patch over it's eye will probably have a black patch or patches somewhere but not necessarily over the eye. A clone is not a mutant or genetically engineered... just genetically replicated
  • Ahh, the ignorance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alpha830RulZ ( 939527 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @09:17PM (#18791369)
    They've been smoking cloned dope for well over 20 years, without much protest or concern. Essentially all, or nearly all, marijuana is grown from cloned stock. You'd think that would assuage their fears somewhat.
  • Can someone tell me what I as a consumer am supposed to think when I see the label? I know one should do some research but what is the gist of it? Should I prefer or avoid the clones? Are the clones supposed to be cheaper or more expensive? Do I really care?
  • Labelling genetically altered foods would certainly be nice, but it seems a bit beside the point considering that it is currently illegal in the United States to test beef for Mad Cow disease [].
  • The number of food allergies increased after we had genetic engineering of food, think what it will increase to after we allow cloned meat.

    I already have some bad food allergies, I don't need any more. Eating meat used to be a lot safer than eating genetically engineered fruit and vegetables for me, but now with cloned meat I might have allergies to cloned meat, after you genetically engineer food and clone meat, we people with food allergies won't have anything left to eat. What is there to eat that isn't
  • Not the real issue (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dave Emami ( 237460 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @07:45AM (#18795791) Homepage
    The folks pushing this don't want the labels so that they can avoid cloned meat. Anyone who really cares about it can buy from sources that target them (fx. the Trader Joe's chain). What they are interested in is making the average non-caring consumer think that there's something wrong with cloned meat, since there's what appears to be a warning label on it, and thus deter producers from using cloning.

    That the FDA is set to allow sale of cloned meat without special labelling means that they've determined that it's not a distinction pertinent to anyone's health. That makes it the secular equivalent of a religious dietary restriction. The costs associated with making sure that the meat in a package isn't cloned should fall on those who care about it, not those who don't. If enough people do want badly enough to avoid cloned meat, specialty stores and sections within stores will cater to that. But it's not a health concern, so it shouldn't be depicted as such on the label. There are "contains nuts" labels because people can have serious allergic reactions to them. But there aren't big red "Warning! Not Kosher!" and "Not Halal!" labels on ham, nor "Contains Beef!" or "Contains Caffeine!" stickers on sausages and energy drinks despite devout Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Mormons not wanting to consume those things. Orthodox Jews pay a premium for kosher products, since they're the ones to whom it matters. So do people who want organic produce or "fair trade" coffee. And so should people wanting to avoid cloned meat, for the same reason: they're the ones wanting something different from the norm for other than objective health reasons.

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk