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Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Cloned Cow Chow" by Lara Kingwill

If you had driven past Dundee Paratrouper or Dundee Perfect chewing away in a field, you wouldn't have been able to tell that they were different to any other bull. You may have noticed how similar they appear, but you would not expect them to be identical. But they are, in fact, exact replica: clones of a bull in America.

Dundee Paratrouper was slaughtered in July last year and his meat entered the UK food chain, unnoticed by authorities. Dundee Perfect, however, was not so lucky. He was slaughtered on the 27th of July this year, but the Food Standards Agency prevented his meat from reaching the shelves. As news of this incident spread, it has caused a raucous about whether or not cloned meat should be allowed on the shelves, ready for human consumption.

To some, eating something that was alive but not procreated by its own species does not seem to be worth the fuss. The chief of FSA, Tim Smith, has reassured the public that all their tests have shown that eating cloned meat does not cause any health problems for humans and is exactly the same as consuming normal produce. I mean, since the meat is identical (literally) to the rest on the shelf and there are no safety concerns, what's the big deal?

To others, however, it is a provocative issue. The Food Safety authorities claim that there have not been enough tests done to say with full confidence that cloned meat is perfectly safe to eat. In contrast, Professor Hugh Pennington, an expert in food safety from Aberdeen University, claims that the results have been consistent and that "I've got no expectation that any such evidence will ever emerge." Consumer groups have also argued that buyers have a right to know what they are buying. A recent survey showed that 85 % of customers would at least want cloned meat labelled if it were to be legalized.

Perhaps one of the bigger concerns, raised by various campaign and Animal Welfare groups, is that cloning is a cruel and painful process for the animal. Statistics have shown that for every normal cloned birth theire are hundreds of miscarriages or deformed young born. Animals are also modified to their full capacity for industry, to produce more milk or get fatter easier. These transformations stretch the animal to its physical limits.

Many people do not feel it is right for humans to 'play God' in this way. We should not try to change nature to suit our needs. Species need to develop and evolve and cloning limits the progress of this as they are exactly the same. It is limiting biodiversity.

In light of these points, the MP's in the UK voted in favour of a legislation that bans cloned meat and other animal products from being entered into the European Food Supply Chain.

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