Meat, Milk from Cloned Animals Nearly Identical to Non-Cloned Meat, Milk

In a finding that must be a real surprise, the Center for Regenerative Biology at the University of Connecticut has concluded that milk and meat from cloned animals is nearly identical to meat and milk from animals produced the old fashioned way.

Currently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has asked the food industry not to sell meat or milk from cloned animals until it can analyze the safety considerations.

The University of Connecticut research found that the meat from cloned cows contained higher levels of fat and fatty acids but at levels that were still within accepted ranges by the beef industry.

Analysis of milk from cloned animals had similar findings. Researcher Jerry Yang said the results indicated that the genes of cloned animals function as they do in non-cloned animals. Yang told the BBC,

The production of each milk protein constituent involves the elaborate regulatory function of many proteins and enzymes, and any abnormal gene expression would likely be reflected by imbalances in the constituents of milk.

These findings are consistent with two other studies published in the journal Cloning & Stem Cells in 2004 which also found that milk and meat from cloned animals were nearly identical to that from non-cloned animals.

Still, skeptics abound. Compassion in World farming director Joyce D’Silva told the BBC,

We don’t know what this technology will result in in the future; we know so far that it is unsustainable. Huge numbers of animals die. They are born with deformed lungs, hearts and kidneys which don’t function. They die slow and lingering deaths. Is this the technology that we need or want? I don’t think so.

Well, of course we don’t know what the future will bring, so we should simply ignore any technology that we lack perfect information about. That’s the animal rights way. If you don’t know something, then the last thing you want to do is emerge from ignorance.


Produce from cloned cattle ‘safe’. The BBC, April 12, 2005.

Study: Cloned Meat, Milk Nearly the Same. Associated Press, April 11, 2005.

Israeli Researcher Produces Featherless Chicken

Israeli researcher Avigdor Cahaner announced this month that he used selective breeding to produce a featherless chicken. Cahaner claimed the chicken would have several advantages to breeds currently used for food, while animal rights activists countered that this was a case of “sick science.”

Cahaner produced his chicken by cross-breeding a boiler chicken with another breed that has a naturally bare neck. The result was a feather-free chicken.

On the one hand, the chicken would grow faster and would be somewhat more environmentally friendly since farmers would not have to deal with plucking and disposing of feathers. On the other hand, featherless chickens tend to be more susceptible to parasites and other problems and, in previous attempts to create featherless chickens, the males have been unable to mate.

Of course to animal rights activists, it is just wrong to try to improve chicken breeds at all. Joyce D’Silva of Compassion in World Farming told New Scientist,

It’s a prime example of sick science and the suggestion that it would be an improvement for developing countries is obscene.

Factory farming is such an inappropriate technology for developing countries because it uses scarce resources like water, electricity and grain that could be used for human consumption, to produce meat that only the middle classes can afford.

Of course, water, electricity and grain are usually in short supply in the developing world not due to factory farming but rather to the gross mismanagement by governments and other institutions in the developing world.


Featherless chicken creates a flap. Emma Young, The New Scientist, May 21, 2002.

Bald chicken ‘needs no plucking’. The BBC, May 21, 2002.

It Doesn't Work Perfectly Yet, So Lets Ban Cloning

Dolly, the cloned sheep, has arthritis. This is apparently big news.

It is big news, of course, because of fears that the arthritis might have something to do with the cloning process. We’ve already learned that many cloned animals have serious health problems, so perhaps Dolly’s predicament might be due to being a cloned animal. Or it could be that Dolly simply is one of a small number of sheep who suffer from arthritis young.

As researcher Ian Wilmut told BBC Radio 4, “There is no way of knowing if this is down to cloning or whether it is a coincidence. We will never know the answer to that question.”

Wilmut has called for an independent study to examine the health of cloned animals. Animal rights activist, of course, have a different response — ban animal cloning.

Sarah Kite of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection told the BBC,

Scientists seem to think that they can mix and match animals’ genes in a controlled way, but actually the control is an illusion. No one yet understands exactly how genes work or what the effects will be on the innocent animals who are subjected to biotechnology.

By all means, since scientists don’t understand exactly how genes work, it seems obvious that the only logical conclusion is that research into how genes work should be banned. How did everyone in the scientific community miss the sort of simple logic that BUAV grasps so easily?

Joyce D’Silva of Compassion in World Farming chimes in as well, telling the BBC,

I think the hundreds and hundreds of other cloned lambs who have been born and had malformed hearts, lungs or kidneys. They have struggled to survive for a few days and then had their lungs filled with fluid and gasped their way to death or had to be put out of their misery by their creators. That is the real story of cloning.

Note, however, that Compassion in World Farming is on the record as being opposed to animal cloning even if researchers figure out how to avoid the problems seen with some cloned animals. The group’s web site says of cloning,

Even if cloning becomes more efficient, CIWF believes it is likely to be a welfare disaster for farm animals. Selective breeding has had a bad record for welfare. Herds of identical cloned animals would lead to even greater loss of genetic diversity with unforeseeable results in terms of illness for the animals. Transgenic pigs used for xenotransplants would have to live their lives in unnatural, sterile conditions. CIWF believes that the suffering involved in cloning and genetically engineering cannot be justified by the benefits claimed by the scientists and multinational biotechnology companies.

In other words, even if researchers succeed in creating a cloned pig whose heart can be successfully transplanted into a human being suffering from heart disease, “the suffering involved … cannot be justified by the benefits.”


Dolly’s arthrities sparks cloning row. The BBC, January 4, 2002.

Genetic Engineering Campaign. Compassion in World Farming, Factsheet, June 28, 2001