The major cattle cloning companies in the United States have admitted that they have not bothered to try and keep meat from the offspring of clones out of the U.S. food supply, in spite of a request by the FDA several years ago.
"This is a fairy tale that this technology is not being used and is not already in the food chain," said Donald Coover, who owns a specialty cattle semen business. "Anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn't know what they're talking about, or they're not being honest."
Coover admitted that for several years, he has been openly selling semen from cloned bulls. He is sure, he added, that others are doing the same.
The USDA's primary concern is that if cloned beef enters the U.S. food supply, other countries might refuse to purchase beef from the United States. Similar problems have emerged in the past with genetically modified U.S. crops being rejected, particularly in Europe but also in parts of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Insiders from agencies such as the USDA and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative noted that a product that no other country wants to buy might do the United States more harm than good.
The USDA's request for a moratorium on cloned beef is meant to give time for "an acceptance process" that will be needed "given the emotional nature of this issue."
A survey by the International Food Information Council Foundation found that 22 percent of U.S. residents surveyed had a favorable impression of cloned meat in 2007, as opposed to 16 percent in 2006. Approximately 50 percent had a negative impression of such food.
The FDA has rejected calls to require the labeling of food produced from cloned animals.