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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:2, Interesting)

    by LiENUS ( 207736 ) <slashdot@@@vetmanage...com> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:34PM (#18790795) Homepage
    If cloning produces a genetically identical animal to the original what is the purpose? The original cow wasn't labeled when it made its way through the superstore, why should the exact copies be labeled?
  • Required? Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ZackSchil ( 560462 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:40PM (#18790897)
    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' 'em all full a hormones and whatnot. We got the technology. It's just smart business sense, y'know?"

    Really, the milk probably wouldn't taste better than any other brand, but it's a neat little gimmick to squeeze some product differentiation out of such a profitless, commodity market. Plus, it really is genuinely better than pumping all your cows full of shitty hormones that end up in people.
  • 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 ;)
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • by OldManAndTheC++ ( 723450 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @10:42PM (#18792391)

    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...)

  • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @11:21PM (#18792835) Homepage Journal
    From Upton Sinclair's The Jungle [gutenberg.org]:

    "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 of them left to be worth exhibiting,--sometimes they would be overlooked for days, till all but the bones of them had gone out to the world as Durham's Pure Leaf Lard! "

    That's the direct reference. Also note:

    "There were the men in the pickle rooms, for instance, where old Antanas had gotten his death; scarce a one of these that had not some spot of horror on his person. Let a man so much as scrape his finger pushing a truck in the pickle rooms, and he might have a sore that would put him out of the world; all the joints in his fingers might be eaten by the acid, one by one. Of the butchers and floorsmen, the beef-boners and trimmers, and all those who used knives, you could scarcely find a person who had the use of his thumb; time and time again the base of it had been slashed, till it was a mere lump of flesh against which the man pressed the knife to hold it. The hands of these men would be criss-crossed with cuts, until you could no longer pretend to count them or to trace them. They would have no nails,--they had worn them off pulling hides; their knuckles were swollen so that their fingers spread out like a fan. There were men who worked in the cooking rooms, in the midst of steam and sickening odors, by artificial light; in these rooms the germs of tuberculosis might live for two years, but the supply was renewed every hour. There were the beef-luggers, who carried two-hundred-pound quarters into the refrigerator-cars; a fearful kind of work, that began at four o'clock in the morning, and that wore out the most powerful men in a few years. There were those who worked in the chilling rooms, and whose special disease was rheumatism; the time limit that a man could work in the chilling rooms was said to be five years. There were the wool-pluckers, whose hands went to pieces even sooner than the hands of the pickle men; for the pelts of the sheep had to be painted with acid to loosen the wool, and then the pluckers had to pull out this wool with their bare hands, till the acid had eaten their fingers off. There were those who made the tins for the canned meat; and their hands, too, were a maze of cuts, and each cut represented a chance for blood poisoning. Some worked at the stamping machines, and it was very seldom that one could work long there at the pace that was set, and not give out and forget himself and have a part of his hand chopped off."

    Do you think that all those lost digits were fished out of the machinery?

    Before the FDA, there was *no* regulation whatsoever on food or drugs. States and municipalities might have them, but if not, what happened in the slaughterhouse stayed in the slaughterhouse.
  • Re:The Point? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by raftpeople ( 844215 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @01:42AM (#18793963)
    There is no reason to single out cloned meat for testing except that the idea freaks you out.

    Almost everything we eat we have a pretty good history regarding it's safety. Cloned animals undergo a significantly altered process than non-cloned animals, this includes dna manipulation, apllying electric shocks to cell, etc. We do not have a clear understanding of why cloning results in so many failures and why they fail in the way they do. This is ample reason to be careful about ingesting that food until we know more.

    Like most issues, this is something best left out of the law books.

    This is precisely the situation where the govt should be involved. Does the average person have the resources to perform their own testing? Of course not. Should we trust a company trying to make a profit? Of course not.

    The best solution in almost every case is to get rid of the existing laws, not to add new ones.
    Radium based paint (glow in the dark, and deadly)
    Lead based paint
    etc. etc. etc.

    If something is found to be a problem, then a law is appropriate. If we still don't know (FDA testing, despite being a few years was pretty limited considering the nature of the changes being made to the dna,etc.), then it's appropriate to be cautious.
  • by Hobbex ( 41473 ) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @03:54AM (#18794757)

    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."

  • 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.

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