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(article, Kim Carlson)
When you shell out the big bucks for organic meats, what exactly are you getting? Meat from animals that, according to the USDA, have been given “access to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise areas, fresh air, and direct sunlight suitable to the species.” Furthermore, according to the Organic Trade Association, the animals, at least in the latter part of their lives, have eaten strictly organic feed — and no funny business: “For instance, in organic production, livestock cannot be fed plastic pellets for roughage, or formulas containing urea or manure. They cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones. All of these are allowable practices in conventional agriculture. For an animal to be raised for organic beef, its mother must have been fed organic feed for at least the last third of gestation.” (I know that CAFOs — confined animal feeding operations — are nasty places, but plastic pellets?) And what about cloned animals? Since the FDA said they would allow meat from cloned animals to be sold without labeling, people have been scrambling to understand the implications. [%image float=left ClonedCow width=400 caption="Double trouble."] Now, from the Department of Did I Read that Right?, I see that the USDA has suggested that while meat from cloned animals cannot be labeled organic, there's a good chance that meat from the progeny of cloned animals can be labeled organic. “This is all new,” National Organic Program spokesperson Joan Shaffer told [%content cid=5225]. “No one has ever really dealt with several generations of progeny.” She’s talking about animals, but of course no one’s ever dealt with several generations of people who’ve eaten progeny from cloned animals either. More important, perhaps, is the question of whether cloning our food, rather than allowing evolution, is the right way to go about feeding ourselves. When Michael Pollan talks about the wisdom of eating a diversity of foods, I know he means eat things other than beef — green things in particular. But diversity of diet also suggests that when we do eat steak, it should be steak from cows, not from cow. If an organic label isn't going to inform us of whether meat is, even indirectly, from cloned animals, what is? If the FDA is admitting the whole enterprise is "all new," then surely they must at least allow labeling of some sort? If you'd like to send a comment to the FDA asking that meat from cloned animals or their progeny not be allowed in the food system, or comment on labeling for such, take a tip from the Ethicureans, who point, in turn, to the website for Center for Food Safety, which has made it easy to send comments to the FDA on this subject. p(green). Please participate in our [%content /mix/polls/Would+you+chow+a+cloned+cow%3F "poll"] about your longing to be a consumer of cloned livestock!