Cloned meat

By Ann Griswold • Published: April 10th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Dolly, the world’s first cloned animal, looked like any other sheep. She didn’t resemble a character from Attack of the Clones… or any science fiction flick, for that matter. In fact, she was so similar to other sheep that there was no physiological or genetic test to tell her apart.

That’s the rationale behind the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to allow the sale of meat and milk from cloned animals without requiring special labeling. After an extensive investigation, the F-D-A concluded that meat and milk from cloned animals is identical in composition to meat from non-cloned animals, and is therefore equally as safe for consumers.

Dolly was cloned by a process known as “somatic cell nuclear transfer,” or S-C-N-T. The name sounds complicated, but the process is simple: Scientists remove the genetic material from an unfertilized female egg, then fill the egg with genetic material taken from an animal they want to clone.

The embryo is implanted into a female and carried to term, just as with a normal pregnancy. The newborn is an exact genetic copy of its parent, allowing ranchers to propagate high-quality animals and ensure that the progeny will be first-rate.

In the ten years since Dolly debuted, scientists have successfully cloned other livestock, including cattle, pigs and goats. But because the process is so expensive… upwards of $20,000 per clone… it’s unlikely that cloned animals will end up in the meat market anytime soon. Instead, they will be used to breed and produce milk.