20080116

F.D.A. Says Food From Cloned Animals Is Safe - New York Times

F.D.A. Says Food From Cloned Animals Is Safe - New York Times: "“When you buy a box of Cheerios in New York and one in Champaign, Illinois, you know they are going to be the same,” said Jon Fisher, president and owner of Prairie State Semen in Illinois. “By shortening the genetic pool using clones, you can do a similar thing.”"

So, the headline says food from cloned animals is safe, but the rest of the article explains that clones themselves are too expensive to eat. Instead, they would sell the offspring of clones for food.

Shortening the genetic pool, then breeding those animals? Will clones breed with other clones (male and female cattle clones have been raised), or with normal animals with normal amounts of genetic variation? What if a clone mates with another clone whose genes are too closely related somehow?

Can you imagine, a food supply reliant on a small population of clones with little natural variation in order to provide uniformity in supply -- what would happen if something disrupted that population, with almost no possibility of adaptation?

I just don't see the entire livestock industry moving towards clones and eliminating normal populations. Even though cloning seems like a natural extension of artificial selection, there are a lot of traits we don't necessarily control for in breeding that can have significant impacts on the population if they are inadvertently removed by shortening the gene pool.

Plus, does this make anyone else think of Jurassic Park?

1 comment:

  1. Shelece12:01 PM

    Factory farming and the evaporation of the family farm has made our food situation scary enough as it is. The animal species that give us meat can be almost as bad as clones with respect to genetic variation because they are specifically bred to put on as much muscle / fat as possible in a short period of time, which is often accompanied by the unintended consequence of having to raise the animal in sterile / heavily medicated conditions at constant temperatures. It would be virtually impossible for most of the pigs raised in this country to survive in the wild in the regions where they are grown. I've read that there is a quiet push in some areas to keep older, hardier (but less tasty) heritage breeds of animal around, but as of now those genetically diverse populations are little more than a novelty.

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