As if we need one more reason to be worried about the supply of beef and milk in the US food chain, this article from BBC News explains that not only are cattle being cloned to maximize production, but some of the cattle are cloned from the cells of dead animals.
The aim of livestock cloning is to clone the best animals to produce the best beef. But some cattle farmers believe it is impossible to pick the best quality animals until their meat has been properly analysed. That is why there are cloned bulls here that have been produced from the cells taken from the carcasses of dead animals.
Brady Hicks of the JR Simplot company in Idaho said his organisation was among many that had tried out the technique successfully. "The animals are hanging on a rail ready to go to the meat counter," he told BBC News. "We identify carcasses that have certain carcass characteristics that we want, but it's too late to reproduce the genetics of the animal. But through cloning we can resurrect that animal."
These "resurrected" animals are then bred with naturally born cows. The next step is to see if their offspring - whose meat can be sold to consumers in the US - have the same qualities as the grandparent from which the cells were originally taken.
As the article goes on to point out, most people in the U.S. are unaware that cloning has been adopted as an acceptable practice in the production of beef and milk cows.This is certainly the first I've heard of it and I'm pretty dialed into issues around beef production.
According to the BBC;
It is early days for cloning in US agriculture. There are only a thousand clones in the one hundred million-strong American cattle herd.
This may be safe. They claim to have done a few studies that show the practice is safe but it is way too early, in my opinion, to be introducing cloned cattle into the supply chain. It just sounds crazy. Are they really unable to determine the best cattle for breeding without cloning them? The beef industry is so hell bent on increasing productivity, but don't they realize that the loss of consumers of beef is an important part of the equation. They lost me a long time ago.
I've found that local beef also tastes better. Gary from Rocky Ridge recently gave me some of his top of the line steaks and they were amazing! And the steers that produced the steaks were selected for breeding the way farmers' have done if for thousands of years.
Like I said, cloning may be safe. I don't know otherwise. But consumer beware - cloned cattle are in the US beef supply.