Consumers need to see who owns ranchland
Cloned Meat Decision Sparks Consumer Campaign
Issues that result from centralized power become manageable with decentralized ownership of land. We trim and append this 2008 article from OneWorld US (Jan 24).
by Caitlin G. JohnsonA broad coalition is urging consumers and grocery stores to refuse burgers, milk, and other products from cloned animals, following a U.S. government decision to lift a ban on the controversial foods.
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) capped years of debate by lifting the ban on selling meat and dairy products from cloned cattle, swine, and goats. (There was not enough information to reach a conclusion on sheep, according to the FDA.)
Within hours, a petition hit cyberspace warning that "Genetically speaking, you meat eaters could be eating burgers from the same cow for years."
The petition will urge grocery stores to refuse to stock food from cloned animals. Signatures will be delivered to grocery stores, the U.S. Congress, and the FDA.
The campaign is sponsored by the Friends of the Earth and a coalition of corporations, nonprofits, and politicians including Ben & Jerry's, the Consumer Federation of America, Union of Concerned Scientists, the Center for Food Safety, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).
The coalition says the FDA studies are inadequate to determine the safety of cloned meat because the sample size is too small -- there are only about 600 cloned animals in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- and because clones' offspring are not included in the assessment.
The majority of clones die either before or directly after birth. It took 227 tries to get Dolly. This indicates they're genetically abnormal. If we eat them, what are the consequences for our health? What about cancers and late-onset degenerative disease?
You couldn't even get a new animal drug approved with research as weak as the FDA used. We need to stop, have the FDA go back and do this right.
At the very least, we need to demand that Congress require labeling of this unproven, untested new product.
However, only healthy animals that reach maturity will enter into the food supply. And the offspring of clones don't have any of the animal health concerns that clones have. DNA is not passed to us when we eat milk or meat from animals.
Clones are conventionally born, there is no genetic modification -- essentially, they are twins.
Producers are wading into the market slowly, in the wake of recent opinion polls indicating that a majority of the public is uncomfortable with food from cloned animals.
Because cloning is an expensive technology, it is more likely to be used for breeding stock than direct food production -- which means the offspring of cloned animals are more likely than clones themselves to show up in the food supply.
At the same time that the FDA announced its ruling, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement supporting the assessment but requesting that U.S. farmers keep cloned meat off the market "during this transition time.”
As for policing the meat departments of stores who take the no-clone pledge, the campaign members are counting on consumer pressure to keep grocers -- and farmers -- honest.
JJS: Cloning goes with big ranches and centralized food production. More human-scale ranching -- where ranchers know slaughterhouses who know butchers who know customers -- there ranchers and scientists make choices responsible to the whole community.
But to have decentralized ranching, you need to have widespread ownership of ranchland. Widespread ownership of land is something that follows automatically in a geonomy, where owners pay land taxes or land dues so they couldn’t afford to hoard excess land.
And instead of getting agri-biz subsidies, ranchers would get the same citizens dividend as every other registered voter, so the current favoring of big ranches with public funds would be ended. In this geonomy, wherein people are less desperate for profit, intelligent discussion among ranchers and consumers could decide the fate of cloned meat and milk.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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