Cloned or Conventional, Meat is Unsafe

The Food and Drug Administration recently declared that meat and milk from cloned cows, pigs and goats and their offspring are “as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals.” That’s like saying that brand A cigarettes are as safe to smoke as brand B. The question isn’t whether meat and milk from cloned animals pose additional health risks — it’s why would anyone want to consume meat and milk at all?

Face it: Meat — cloned or not — is about as “safe” as a troubled celebrity behind the wheel of a car. It’s high in cholesterol, saturated fat and concentrated protein — all of which contribute to heart disease. Research shows that meat-eaters are 50 percent more likely to develop heart disease than vegetarians are. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that 26 percent of meat-eaters studied suffered from high blood pressure — the No. 1 risk factor for strokes – compared to only 2 percent of vegetarians. The American Dietetic Association acknowledges that people who eat animal products are more likely to be overweight than people who do not.

In a 2007 joint report, the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund advised people to lose weight and reduce their consumption of red and processed meats to help prevent certain cancers, including colorectal and breast cancers. Scientists with the University of Minnesota, the Harvard School of Public Health and other institutions have cautioned that eating red and processed meats can also cause diabetes. Other meats aren’t any better: According to a 2006 Harvard study, people who frequently eat grilled skinless chicken have a 52 percent higher chance of developing bladder cancer than people who don’t.

Add to this the risk of illness from consuming meat and milk tainted with dangerous bacteria. Just last week, the Rochester Meat Co. in Minnesota recalled 188,000 pounds of ground beef potentially contaminated with E. coli. There’ve been at least eight other E. coli-related meat recalls since October. In September, the Topps Meat Co. in New Jersey recalled more than 21 million pounds of beef after 100 people became sick. Since June, three elderly men have died and one woman has miscarried after drinking listeria-contaminated milk from a Boston-area dairy plant.

Yet instead of at least encouraging people to be wary when eating animal products, the FDA is allowing meat and milk from the offspring of cloned animals to enter the food supply — and consumers are supposed to swallow this? Only in America. The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies says that it doesn’t see convincing arguments to justify the production of food from clones and their offspring.

Nothing can justify this. Not only are meat and milk unhealthy, the process of cloning animals is also unethical. Cloned animals pose a risk to their surrogate mothers because they tend to be too large for their mothers to deliver. Many clones have birth defects, and cloned calves have died of respiratory, digestive, circulatory, nervous, muscular and skeletal abnormalities. But, according to the FDA, if the animals survive more than a few months, they appear normal in most ways. How comforting: If they live long enough, they can be slaughtered in the same terrifying ways that other animals are.

The FDA is moving in the wrong direction. More and more consumers are resolving to make healthy, humane food choices. They’re choosing truly safe “meats” — mock meats — and other vegetarian options. A 2005 Mintel survey indicated that U.S. sales of vegetarian food increased by 64 percent from 2000 to 2005 and predicted that the vegetarian food market will continue to grow in the next few years. This represents progress – engineering animals and marketing unhealthy food does not.

Heather Moore is a freelance writer and a senior writer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510. Read other articles by Heather, or visit Heather's website.

14 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Don Hawkins said on February 12th, 2008 at 8:29am #

    The effect of the filtering of climate change science during the current Administration has
    been to make the reality of climate change less certain than the facts indicate and to reduce
    concern about the relation of climate change to human-made greenhouse gas emissions. For
    example, one of my staff members submitted a story based on his paper that found the ocean was
    less effective at removing human-made CO2 than had previously been estimated. Public Affairs
    decided that this story should not be provided to the media. Another staff member had to attend
    a ‘practice’ press conference, in which he was asked whether anything could be done to stem
    accelerating loss of sea ice. When he suggested “we could reduce emissions of greenhouse
    gases” he was told sternly “that’s unacceptable!”, with the explanation that scientists are not
    allowed to say anything that relates to policy. James Hansen

    The Washington Post
    Saturday 09 February 2008

    EPA effort to limit mercury output is said to ignore law.
    A federal appeals court yesterday threw out the Environmental Protection Agency’s approach to limiting mercury emitted from power-plant smokestacks, saying the agency ignored laws and twisted logic when it imposed new standards that were favorable to plant owners.

    Twisted logic when it imposed new standards that were favorable to plant owners. I am sorry but “that’s unacceptable!” Now just for the heck of it who is right here. Because both sides can say that’s unacceptable. Then you have to ask yourself this twisted logic thing who would use that and why? Can anybody recommend a good sea food place in New York City. How about one called “Heavy metal”, I hear is all the rage. Suppose you had the President of the United States and a plant owner and James Hansen all standing together which one do you think would be more apt to use twisted logic? I know not a fair question it’s a nobrainer.

  2. Don Hawkins said on February 12th, 2008 at 9:23am #

    Hay what about those wheat prices doubled in two months. Wait don’t tell me we are growing crops for fuel now is this an example of twisted logic. Because we could make smaller cars that get say 80 MPG or switch to electric as we use geothermal, wind ,solar, nuclear and get on with some research and fast. We could still use oil for farming until we get it right and of course the use of mass transit is a good one. That’s unacceptable? To who and why? Now many people say we have only 7 or 8 years to do this is that unacceptable, why to hard. Golf, tennis anyone. Dinner party how is St. Barts this time of year

  3. partisan said on February 12th, 2008 at 10:10am #

    The FDA is moving in the wrong direction????

    what are you people thinking the FDA is intended for? to protect the customers from greedy, filthy and nasty corporation interest? you “dissidentvoice”-people normally think into the right direction, but sometimes you appear really naive! Dig a little deeper, the FDA is not on your side!

  4. Don Hawkins said on February 12th, 2008 at 10:22am #

    Secretary Paulson said that responsible people will be helped a few minutes ago on TV. Because with this twisted logic we all see it looks like the irresponsible people don’t need any help as they just help themselves. Now just who are these irresponsible people? Because they should be told sternly “that’s unacceptable!”. Isn’t twisted logic fun.

  5. Michael Kenny said on February 12th, 2008 at 12:15pm #

    If Ms Moore wants to argue that eating meat and milk products are inherently bad, she will need to explain why the human race has eaten meat for several million years without any apparent detrimental effect, and that in an age when nobody knew what cholesterol, saturated fat and concentrated protein were. Also, why is OK to kill a vegetable and eat it but not OK to kill an animal and eat it?

  6. Brit said on February 12th, 2008 at 12:35pm #

    The human brain would have never become so large without meat. But the fact that the protein in meat has been beneficial for us, doesn’t eliminate the possibility that other aspects of meat are bad for us. Maybe it would be healthier for all of us to get our potein from vegetable-based products.

  7. Voltairine said on February 12th, 2008 at 1:20pm #

    The results of scientific studies that Ms. Moore cites in her article appear to counter Mr. Kenny’s assertion that consumption of animal products has not had any “apparent detrimental effect” on human health. Whether humans of past millenia who consumed animal products suffered “detrimental” effects is a question we simply can’t definitively answer. But the results of numerous studies suggest that humans living now are certainly suffering such effects. Though other lifestyle choices arguably play a role in human health problems, the evidence is mounting that a diet high in animal products is a risky choice if one wishes to optimize health. Whether consuming animal products is “inherently wrong” is beside the point.

  8. Michael Dawson said on February 12th, 2008 at 4:08pm #

    People are not “consumers.” We are product-users. If you hope to help spread the word about better eating and better living in the modern world, please stop employing corporate capitalism’s slurs against human beings.

    Calling people “consumers” obscures their normal aims and interests from view. That’s part of the trickery and misinformation that you’re fighting against. Don’t give in to it!

    Next time you find yourself about to write “more and more consumers are resolving to make healthy, humane food choices,” just say “more and more _people_ are resolving to make healthy, humane food choices.”

    It’s easy and subtly important. As the old song says, people are people.

  9. Thomas Victor said on February 12th, 2008 at 5:58pm #

    It’s a mistake to lump in criticism of cloning animals for food with criticism of consumption of meat and milk products in general.

    The author has such child like faith in these ‘studies’ and in research scientists in the health field!. There are 1000’s of dubious studies out there, just pick your point of view and you can find many studies that support that view. And many that say the opposite. The American Medical establishment has chosen to push it’s point of view to the exclusion of all others (does that sound familiar?) so be cautious, same as with other establishment news.

    For example, read the Dr Atkins diet book and you can see 100’s of scientific studies showing that people have done very well with high fat diets. But the current ‘medical establishment’ view is to demonize satuarated fats and cholesterol and to ignore any studies that say the opposite.

    There are studies that show for people above 50, the ones with high cholesterol live longer than those with low cholesterol.

    As Michael Kenny points out, humans have eaten meat and milk products for millions of years and flourished. In South Asia, coconut oil and palm oil have been heavily used through the ages with no ill effects inspite of the ‘satuarated fats’ scare in the US. Here, people switched to margarine and other hydrogenated fats and are suffering from the trans-fats they ingest. Meanwhile, at least 10 years ago, scientific articles came out saying,yes that was a mistake, there are no problems with coconut oil. And now there are booming sales in organic cocnut oil as a health food. Yet the medical establishment refuses to acknowledge it’s mistake.

    Cholesterol, far from being evil, is absolutely necessary for humans. The brain is 50% cholesterol, cholesterol is a necessary element in cell walls, and cholesterol is the starting point for many hormones including the sex hormones. The fact that cholesterol is found in arterial placques could well be due to it being being used by the body to patch weak arterial walls that are about to give way, not due to it being CAUSE of the the placque. So the problem is really how to strengthen arteries, not how to eliminate evil cholesterol. That’s what Dr Linus Pauling found and his work is being continued by Dr Mathias Rath.

    In looking at health studies it is crucial to delve into the actual details of the experimental setup. Most health studies I’ve looked at, the math and statistics look very impressive but so many basic factors about the phenomena being studied are ignored that the results are dubious.

    How many studies have you seen that say something like – Native people in country A had simple diets consisting of foods XY & Z, they switched to American hamburger and pizza and are dying like flies. So hamburger and pizza is deadly, instead eat foods X Y and Z. People here try foods X Y & Z and it makes no difference. In fact some are much WORSE such as Soy Milk instead of real milk. It might turn out (my theory) that the crucial thing wasn’t the food at all, it was that those people had switched to the competitive, hurried individualistic American way of life with no job security and that was what killed them, not the fast food.

    I’ve been eating dozens of eggs a week for the past 40 years and use a lot of coconut oil but my cholesterol levels are fine. I’m trying to switch to NOT eating meat for humane reasons but will probably do that by drinking more milk than I do now. I find raw milk suits me the best.

    I think the body adapts really well to all kinds of natural unprocessed foods so being picky isn’t necessary. Eating only moderate amounts of food and getting a lot of exercise/physical activity and avoiding continual stress is what keeps one healthy.

  10. doug said on February 12th, 2008 at 7:20pm #

    Meat is not unhealthy. BUT commercially produced meat IS SUSPECT for several reasons. Much of the US is over populated with ungulates(white tailed deer) Sooooooo……..Eat deer meat! it is healthy and cheap. BUT!!!! You have to KILL it yourself and dress it and butcher it to eat it.SOOO>>>> Learn to hunt and kill and eat healthy meat. If you eat meat and you don’t hunt you are endorsing the industrial meat production of this country with all it’s obvious shortcomings.

  11. paul said on February 13th, 2008 at 10:06am #

    People have eaten meat for millions (!) of years, maybe, but I’m quite sure they haven’t done it every day. Most studies show that in Europe for the last 2000 years meat was eaten maybe twice a week. The roman soldier was feeding mostly on a diet of barley. Cereals, fruits, vegetables, milk and cheese were eaten on a daily basis, not meat. In fact a diet based on meat was the nobleman’s privilege (muscle, strength, and not least, fast renewal of sexual capacity). Early american colonists were said to be taller than their european grandfathers due to the huge availability of meat, be it from raising cattles or wild animals, in North America. Not paying taxes to feudal landlords might have helped their case too. Daily consumption of meat is a recent phenomenon. I was born late fifties in a french middle class family and my parents never had meat on a daily basis. I did, thanks to the huge economical development that followed world war 2. The case for meat is not really whether it’s good or bad for health, but more like do we need to eat that much ? Being two inches taller than my father is certainly a boost to my ego, and then what ? A body raised and kept on a regular use of meat is a body hard to maintain in good conditions. You need exercises, sport, you have to keep it moving one way or the other, and you need to supply it with meat. Shit stinks because human bowels are not designed to handle that much animal protein. Second you need to have access to good quality meat, otherwise it stinks even more, and that means organic and it’s a lot more expensive. But the drama of modern western lifestyle is, you need meat, lots of it : not to build muscles (who needs muscles to survive today?), not to run and hunt games. You need it so that your nervous system will keep up with the stress, the pace, the insecurity, the hidden violence of human and business relations. I defy anyone to work long hours , run a business, deal with problems, on a vegetarian diet alone. I tried. And maybe you need it to comfort the age-old illusion on a deep cellular level that you are a winner, that you have actually killed another animal and survived, and you’re digesting-absorbing its strength.

  12. Chris Crass said on February 13th, 2008 at 2:20pm #

    I’d just like to chime in here and point out that the name “Topps Meat Co.” makes me laugh.

  13. Clark Clydstone said on February 16th, 2008 at 12:31pm #

    In my travels to over 24 countries in 18 years, I’ve learned much about nutrition.
    Nevertheless, because of my interminable travels, I went thru a nasty divorce in 1998 and as a result endured some real pain from my prostate. Emotional disturbances excerbate enflamed prostates. Not being able to wee when need arises is about one of the most painful experiences anyone can experience. Please let me share an anomaly of that experience.

    I was on a year project to Venezuela for which I would return State side every 6 weeks for personal business and remain 10 days or so. ALthough on several occasions it was longer. My condition was full blown when I reported to the project in Venezuela and it was so embarassing, that I needed to stay close to the wee hole. After about 2-3 weeks, my condition would begin to alleviate considerably then go into remission. To my great relief and each time I thought surely I’m over it.
    After about three episodes of the syntomes leaving and returning with my trips to the US, I decided to see a vascular surgeon recently immigrated from Italy to Venezuela.
    He did not show standard Doctor sympathy for my condition and was somewhat cavalier about it. I explained in detail what was happening to me and how my body responded after only a few short weeks in Venezuela. Me and thousands of men in the US, prostate enflammation is serious business.
    This is what this doctor told me after explaining my condition and travels to the US and Venezuela:
    “Your condition is really not much of a mystery, in fact the US is where this condition is most prevalent. Something in a previous time never existed even in your country. If you want to get well, stop eating commercial meat, meat by products as well dairy products in the United States when your there and you’ll get well. Now if you wish, I can prescribe some medi cation that can alleviate the symtomes, but your’ll still have the underlying problem.”
    He said: “the cause of this problem is the US Meat Industry, they add much antibiotics to animal feed and to get those same animals to market faster they add harmones which explains puberty in 10 year olds in your country.”
    Fellow readers, I stopped eating commercial meat in 1999 in the United States and have been symptom free ever since. I am 60 years old and my wife is 33 and I perform as when I was 35 and not to boast she at times complains that I want intimate relations too much. My father just died at 98, my great grandmother at 109, both grandfathers in thier late 90’s. I truly believe every human being should begin middle age at 65 and old age at 85 and can do it if nutrition becomes a full time notice on our behavior.
    I still eat meat, but living on a ranch allows me to raise my own, and when I haven’t a slaughter animal, I buy a lamb or a young heifer from a nieghbor. Although, fresh fruits , vegetables and a variety of nuts are 75% of my nutrition. COOKED food becomes instant glucose in the blood and therefore a simple carbohydrate. No great mystery, but it does take determined effort to nourish oneself with our health a constant proirity especially when traveling.
    It’s not so much the meat that is evil, its how that animal was nourished, because your eating whatever that animal ate. Animal protein and simple carbohydrates is the average American’s addiction, almost as bad as alcohol is to the alcoholic. COMPLEX carbohydrates is where our nutrition should lie and meat perhaps 15-18% of our regualr diet. Enjoy your meals and your life………we only have it once.


  14. Cami said on May 20th, 2008 at 6:45pm #

    Thanks for this article it really helped me with the project I am working on about america’s food and meat being uneccptable to eat, and this really helped me. Thank-you.