This week marks the 15th anniversary of the arrival of Dolly, the famous sheep who was the first animal successfully reproduced by cloning, and whose preserved body, by the way, is displayed in a rotating case at the National Museum of Scotland.
It also marks nearly three years since the FDA ruled that meat and milk from cloned animals was safe to consume and that no specific labeling requirements would be mandated for such products.
That ruling has kept critics busy decrying FDA’s (alleged) lack of scientific rigor, its political bias toward industry and its willful disregard of the potential of the as-yet-undetermined risks involving both food safety and animal health that might surface at some point down the road.
Although the public’s focus on animal rights issues had always been a short-term proposition tied to the shock value of hidden video footage or as a result of food-safety incidents or other newsworthy media events, cloning remains a weapon in the animal rights community’s arsenal that continues to be trotted out whenever news developments provide an excuse to do so
In Great Britain, where that country’s Food Standards Agency ruled this week that products from cloned animals are safe for human consumption and should be approved for sale in the UK, the agency continues to face opposition from anti-cloning groups such as Compassion in World Farming, the Soil Association, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the World Wildlife Fund. Part of the controversy stems from that fact that two years ago, it was discovered that meat from the offspring of a cloned cow had been eaten in the UK without a license being obtained.
The other part is a continuing effort on the part of opposition groups to portray cloning as an unnatural, aberrant technology to improve the production of animal foods.
It appears to have impacted its targeted audience, according to a new study.
Sean Fox, a Kansas State University professor of agricultural economics, and grad student Shonda Anderson recently surveyed undergrads at KSU and at Ireland’s University College-Dublin and Ecole Superieure d’Agriculture in Purpan, France, about their likelihood of buying and eating meat and other products from cloned animals. He found that students in Ireland and France were less likely to consume cloned products than K-State students. However, students were more likely to consume cloned products after learning that both the Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority stated that cloned animal products pose no safety risk.