Some Rush Job


Do you know any perfectionists? If you do, pity them, for they are often held back by an unseen enemy that lurks in their mind. It makes ‘em negative.

The recent fuss surrounding the Food and Drug Administration’s ruling that meat and milk from cloned animals are no different from the products of others may be the most recent ‘case in point’ of a perfectionist’s attempt to hold the rest of us ‘hostage’ and protect us.

When we look across the history of man’s progress, we discover that each milestone is marked by a technology ‘tipping point’. Fire, the wheel, electricity, metallurgy, modern agriculture and a host of things have made our lives easier and always a better experience for the next generation.

So why is someone like Charles Margulis from a Washington, DC consumer group so intent on demanding ‘perfect’ regulation of livestock cloning before any of it is available for the market? “Why is there such a rush to get these products on the market?” he said.

What rush is he referring to here? Is it the twenty year research ‘rush’ followed by the FDA six year exhaustive study?

The FDA didn’t merely flip a coin to determine the safety of this potential food product. Instead, it conducted a detailed investigation. Its ruling wasn’t just a short press release written by the office intern, but a 678-page risk-assessment report that was produced in collaboration with an independent panel of scientific experts.

“Extensive evaluation of the available data has not identified any food consumption risks or subtle hazards in healthy clones of cattle, swine, or goats,” it concluded.

Some rush job, eh?

And is this ‘rush’ job over? The FDA is now seeking feedback to this draft report from the public, and its recommendations won’t be finalized until it has reviewed all of the submissions filed during a 90-day comment period that runs until April. Anybody can go on the FDA’s website and register a view on the subject.

Let’s assume that, even after all of this, the FDA remains convinced that cloned food is safe to eat. A huge marketing challenge remains given the public’s uneasiness over cloning. That suggests to me that literally none of these animals will show up at your local Safeway in anything resembling a rush. McDonald’s is not on the verge of selling cloneburgers!

Animal cloning is an expensive proposition. It simply costs too much money for cloned animals to compete with conventional animals as sources of food. They can cost up to $15,000 apiece, according to the Washington Post. As a result, there are believed to be fewer than 1,000 of them in the United States.

The goal, of course, is that they can improve our food –and make it even safer, healthier, and tastier. The beef industry is always seeking to heighten the quality and consistency of its product. Cloning is simply an additional tool that producers eventually may choose to adopt if it helps them meet the demands of consumers. In all likelihood, few people will eat the meat of cloned animals–though they might eat the meat of animals that are descended from clones.

If that still sounds strange, think of it this way: Cloned animals are identical twins born at different times. We already eat cloned food right now. Take bananas. The yellow Cavendish bananas we buy in the store are genetically identical clones of each other. Certain kinds of potatoes and grapes are clones as well.

There was no rush in the FDA judgment. Now, perhaps, we should assume the market will do its job as well.

Hmmm. I wonder if there would be any people walking around today if pure perfectionism had been there to choke off the use of fire. Well, maybe the cavemen went ahead because fire was so hard to label. Maybe, they decided it was warm.

Reg Clause, a Truth About Trade and Technology board member ( raises cattle, corn and soybeans on a fourth generation family farm in central Iowa.

Reg Clause

Reg Clause

Reg Clause is the fourth generation to manage the Clause Family Farm Jefferson, Iowa. The operation raises corn, soybeans, cattle and grandkids.

Reg volunteers as a board member for the Global Farmer Network and is currently serving as Chairman. Reg has extensive experience in business consulting, specializing in business development including feasibility studies, business planning and financial structuring for clients as diverse as biofuels, wineries, meat processing, niche marketing and many more. His work has allowed him to travel extensively around the world to conduct in-depth analysis of agricultural production systems.

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