Friday, October 14, 2011
Facts About Cloning in Livestock
For hundreds of years humans have selectively bred livestock
(i.e.cows, pigs, chickens, etc…) and companion animals (i.e.dogs,
cats, horses, etc…) for specific traits. For livestock, those
traits related to meat production, the ability to breed, health,
and performance. As technology advances and the amount of
food needed to feed a growing population continues to grow, cloning
has become a viable option for improving production
Cloning Livestock is the most recent evolution of selective
breeding in animal husbandry. It is an assisted reproductive
technology that allows breeders to create animals with the most
desirable attributes. The process provides farmers with
additional reproductive options, and allows them to obtain
increased production at a lower cost.
The technology to clone animals was developed in the
1970s. Cloning is a process where the nuclear material is
removed from a somatic cell-a cell which is neither an egg nor a
sperm cell-and transferred to an ovum (i.e.egg cell) that has had
its nuclear material removed. This process is called somatic
cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). This allows a livestock
producer to raise a genetic duplicate of the original [a superior]
animal. There are an estimated 650 live clones-mostly
cattle-in the US, and several thousand exist worldwide. It
costs approximately $20,000 to successfully clone an
In reaction to widespread speculation that products coming from
cloned livestock are harmful to consumers, the Food and Drug
Administration ("FDA") and National Academy of Sciences ("NAS")
have conducted numerous studies that disprove any such claim.
It has been shown that there is no significant evidence that
products from cloned animals are in any way harmful to consumers,
no harm is brought upon the animals, and that cloning offers a
variety of benefits to breeders as well as consumers.
Continuing research is being done to further improve the
process. Livestock cloning is a developing technology in
today's agriculture and offers benefits that will promote enhanced
future success in the industry.
Farm Bureau Policy
The American Farm Bureau Federation ("AFBF") "supports the
continued development of animal cloning as a means to advance
assisted reproductive technology such as artificial insemination,
embryo transfer and 'in-vitro'
Despite having safety approval from the FDA, cloning livestock
has been strongly opposed by animal welfare, consumer advocacy
groups, environmental organizations, some members of Congress, and
many consumers. The FDA determined that there is no current
evidence that food products derived from adult somatic cell clones
or their progeny present a food safety
For more than five years, FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine
("CVM") scientists studied hundreds of published reports and other
detailed information on livestock clones to evaluate the safety of
food from these animals. This resulting report, "A Risk
Assessment," concluded that the composition of food products from
cattle, swine, and goat clones, or the offspring of any animal
clones, is no different from that of conventionally bred
To further examine the research The National Academy of Sciences
(NAS) also scrutinized numerous studies, publishing in-depth
reviews in 2002 and 2004. These reviews also concluded that
there is no scientific evidence that cloning is associated with any
unintended compositional change that results in an unintended heath
consequence in humans.[v]
One of the biggest misconceptions about cloning is that meat
from cloned animals would find its way into the commercial meat
supply. Cloned animals are currently very expensive to
produce, and will not be used as a primary source of meat. At
a cost of approximately $20,000, cloned livestock are intended to
be breeder stock, while it is more likely their offspring may be
used for food production.[vi]
Cloning allows farmers and ranchers to accelerate reproduction
of their most productive livestock in order to better produce safe
and healthy food. Cloning reproduces the healthiest animals,
thus minimizing the use of antibiotics, growth hormones and other
chemicals. Cloning enables farmers to achieve several
desirable characteristics in their livestock.
One characteristic is the ability for cloned animals to become
disease resistant. Sick animals are expensive and do not
produce as much meat or milk as healthy animals. By
eliminating disease from the herd, the farmer decreases medical
costs and experiences gains in production.
Another desirable trait achievable through cloning is the
ability to breed livestock suitable to the surrounding
climate.[vii] Fertility, desirable body
type, and market preference are other desirable characteristics
that breeders are able to obtain through cloning. Cloning
simply accelerates the age-old process of improving breeding stock
in meat animals. The process provides breeders with
additional production options.
The FDA has concluded that cloning is no more invasive than
other accepted forms of assisted reproduction, such as in vitro
fertilization.[viii] Because breeding
the best possible stock improves the over-all health and disease
resistance of animal populations, cloning should reduce animal
suffering over time.
A National Academy of Sciences review found that "the health and
well-being of somatic cell clones approximated those of normal
individuals as they advance into the juvenile stage. Somatic
cell cloned cattle reportedly were physiologically,
immunologically, and behaviorally
There is no increased risk of Large Offspring Syndrome (LOS)
among cloned animals. Where clones have abnormalities at
birth, these may continue for the first few months of life, but
after the age of six months, they're completely indistinguishable
in appearance and blood measurements from conventionally bred
animals of the same age.[x]
[i] Bren, Linda. (2003). Cloning: Revolution or Evolution in
Animal in Animal Production?FDA Veterinarian Newsletter 18(5).
[ii] American Farm Bureau Federation. (2010). Animal
cloning.Policies (p. 69). Seattle, WA.
[iii] United States Department of Health and Human Services.
Food and Drug Administration. (2008).Animal Cloning and Food
Safety. Consumer Health Information. Washington, DC.
[iv] United States Department of Health and Human Services. Food
and Drug Administration. (2008).Animal Cloning and Food Safety.
Consumer Health Information Washington, DC.
[v] Biotechnology Industry Organization. (2010).
[vi] Biotechnology Industry Organization. (2010).
[vii] DeLancey, Siobhan, et al. (2006). A Primer on Cloning and
Its Use in Livestock Operations.FDA Veterinarian Newsletter 11(5).
[viii] Biotechnology Industry Organization. (2010).
[ix] Biotechnology Industry Organization. (2010).
[x] United States Department of Health and Human Services. Food
and Drug Administration. (2010).Myths about cloning. Washington,
United States Department of Health and Human Services. Food and
Drug Administration. (2008). Animal Cloning: A Risk Assessment.
Center for Veterinary Medicine. Rockville, MD: Online.
United States Department of Health and Human Services. Food and
Drug Administration. (2008). Consumer FAQs. Animal Cloning.
Washington, DC: Online.
Cyagra, Inc. (2010). Why clone? Elizabethtown, PA: Online.
Kendall, Susan K. (2010).Cloning: A webliography. Michigan State
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