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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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  • Re:The Point? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by triikan ( 1035650 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:23PM (#18790675)
    The point is to allow consumers to make their own decisions on what goes into their bodies.
  • 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 plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:38PM (#18790871)
    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.
  • Re:The Point? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Ayal.Rosenthal ( 1070472 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:39PM (#18790875) Homepage
    People don't know what's going into their bodies today. People drink Splenda thinking that it has something to do with sugar (it doesn't) or eat non-fat burgers with natural flavors (naturally made in a lab). The processes that foods go through today make it impossible to do know what goes into your body, unless you're eating fruits & vegetables.
  • Re:The Point? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SirTalon42 ( 751509 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:44PM (#18790947)
    Clones AREN'T exact copies. At least with our current technology. Clones tend to die a lot quicker than the real things and develop more diseases.
  • Re:The Point? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by senatorpjt ( 709879 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:48PM (#18791011)
    Actually, I know exactly what is in Splenda. I have no idea what has been sprayed on the fruit.

  • I agree, mostly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by benhocking ( 724439 ) <[benjaminhocking] [at] [yahoo.com]> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:57PM (#18791137) Homepage Journal

    If enough* people are concerned about it, then it makes sense to label accordingly. If I weren't a vegetarian, then I'd have no problem paying less for cloned meat, as I think it's highly unlikely that cloning could result in any danger to the consumer. If you feel differently, then you should be allowed to opt out - which is what labeling allows.

    * enough should be a pretty low bar as labeling isn't that expensive. Maybe 1% = "enough", but I'm just making up numbers here.
  • by AmiAthena ( 798358 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @09:24PM (#18791443) Homepage
    There are a lot of people with moral objections to cloning of any kind. They believe it is playing God. Whether you or I agree is neither here nor there. While I might disagree with many veiws of, say, a conservative Christian, I think they have as much right to know whether the food they buy conflicts with their beliefs as anyone else. Jews and Muslims don't eat pork, Hindus don't eat beef. This generally gets respected. Anyone remember McDonald's getting in trouble for not making it known they were using beef lard to fry their fries? I can't imagine how horrible it would feel to be Hindu and find out that your potatoes containted literal sacred cow. I think many people would feel the same about their meat being cloned, and they should have the choice not to eat it.
  • by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @09:45PM (#18791725)

    Clones AREN'T exact copies. At least with our current technology. Clones tend to die a lot quicker than the real things and develop more diseases.
    I agree... The way I see it there are diseases that are caused by some pretty unexpected mechanisms [wikipedia.org] and not just viruses or bacteria so, basically, I'd rather be safe than sorry. Now, I know prion diseases have little or nothing to do with cloning but if such a thing as infectious proteins is possible I'm open to the possibility that GM foods may be harmful to humans in ways that have yet to manifest them selves. I'm normally quite quick to adopt new technologies but if they have the potential to shorten my life-span I'm simply not interested. Another point is that these GM/Cloned food stuffs offer no real advantages that I can see over the old fashioned food stuffs and so I will keep away from anything made from GELFs for the foreseeable future. If GM/Cloned food labeling hurts some soulless corporation's profit margin by reducing their ability to market their GM foods products then.... well..... I really don't give a f*ck. I still want GM foods to be labeled, period!.
  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @10:19PM (#18792131)
    Never say the hard left isn't as anti-scientific as the hard right.

    This statement is incorrect on both counts.

    The hard left isn't anti-scientific. They are simply ignorant, emotion-based, hateful, and extremely immature. What would a ten-year-old girl do? That's what a hard lefty would do. Cloning=yuck-fear-greedy-rich-bad-men-harming-cute -animals. This is not anti-scientific exactly, though it's not scientific thinking (or thinking at all really). They're pro-scientific when there's a compelling emotional appeal to something scientific and anti-scientific when the emotional appeal is the other way.

    The hard right wants to teach their children an outdated misinterpretation of the Bible. (I assume that's what you're talking about.) They also don't want to be made poorer by being forced to do things against their will because some "expert" says it's a good idea. The hard right is pro-scientific in all other cases.

    The hard right needs to re-read their Bible and apply some ordinary logical reasoning to what it actually says. The hard left needs to grow up.
  • Re:The Point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @10:29PM (#18792257)
    What is the point of the label without any information regarding the risks?

    1. So you can falsely imply risks and sell your competing product as clone-free.
    2. So you can hire more government employees to police the label requirement. They (or their union) will contribute to your campaign.
    3. For the revenue from the fines on "improperly" labeled food.
    4. You run a law firm and can sue companies for "harm" from cloned food. They settle out of court.
    5. Who better to head the food labeling bureau than the guy who wrote the bill?

    So the short answer is profit.

    This is the reason behind most regulation or other government action.
  • by Azghoul ( 25786 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @10:41PM (#18792381) Homepage
    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?
  • by bongomanaic ( 755112 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @12:46AM (#18793567)

    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.
  • Re:The Point? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2007 @12:51AM (#18793613)
    For all we know, healthy intact telomeres (which were present in the parent organism but not present in cloned copies) are an important part of a healthy balanced diet, and someone who ate too many cloned foods all their life would wind up having children with horrible birth defects. Or they might be perfectly safe. We simply don't know. Anybody who tries to tell you that cloned or GM foods are or are not safe instantly loses their credibility, because they don't know.

    It's not the kind of thing you can find out in less than 30 years either. So, unless we want to take the choice away from people as to whether they will participate in a great medical experiment, then we should label the foods and let people make that choice.
  • Re:The Point? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @01:21AM (#18793859) Journal
    'For all we know, healthy intact telomeres (which were present in the parent organism but not present in cloned copies) are an important part of a healthy balanced diet'

    Possible but not probable. There are millions on things you can purchase and consume on the market that haven't undergone extensive testing. There is no reason to single out cloned meat for testing except that the idea freaks you out. That's like saying escargot needs to undergo clinical testing for safety because something as gross as snails could be dangerous. Don't try pulling the natural vs unnatural card either. Something is not more likely to be safe simply because its natural, nature has produced more things that are harmful to man than man has.

    This is one of those issues that nobody cares about unless you shove it under their nose. Mandating something like this means more additional expense for the producer than just print on a label. It means they have to have seperate facilities and handle the two seperately. You can no longer send them to a single slaughter house to be butchered and mixed together. Grocery stores would also have to keep and handle the meats seperately. Instead of taking 50 of cut A and grinding it up then splitting it into 1.2lb (they are always intentionally over) packages they will have to handle and process two batches. Thousands of Grocers and processors across the country are suddenly open to liability if they make a mistake in the handling. These expenses will be passed on to EVERYONE whether they care about cloned meat or not.

    Like most issues, this is something best left out of the law books. If people are really concerned then they will voice their complaints loudly enough that some vendors will voluntarily tag their meats 'all natural' and pass the premiums on to the consumers who care about the distinction.

    I do agree that many will be concerned and that this will occur but I disagree that we should pass laws forcing people to behave the way we'd like each time there is a problem. The best solution in almost every case is to get rid of the existing laws, not to add new ones.

  • FUD and Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dsanfte ( 443781 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @02:06AM (#18794115) Journal
    Protein (including any DNA, unless you're swallowing a. pylori bacteria) is broken down in the stomach under the action of acid and pepsin, into constituent amino acids. At this point, the specific genotype of the cow becomes a moot question. It's gone. The only health question post-breakdown is whether a toxin is present in the meat.

    The diseases you describe occurring in cloned animals, due to abnormalities in their genomes as a result of cloning, are genetic in nature. The are not communicable any more than I could give you Multiple Sclerosis or Sickle-Cell Anemia by breathing on your neck. To suggest cloned meat poses some kind of nebulous danger to humans when it is passing inspection is utter foolishness. Show us how; come up with a theory and evidence of transmission. Otherwise, kindly shut up.
  • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @09:46AM (#18797041) Homepage Journal
    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!

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.