Does anybody really know what’s for dinner? What interests are creating these brave new foods, anyway?
A dangerous trend is cementing into place, where GMO foods, aspartame added to milk and cloned meat can all enter the marketplace without being labeled — or even officially announced — to the public.
And while a major controversy has erupted over labeling genetically modified food staples, commonly mixed in with a wide array of foods, we are told that cloned beef may not even be identifiable or distinguishable, and may already be in our food supply.
The FDA gave assurances in 2008 that it is totally safe; but if any risks are identified, how will the public even know what’s on the end of its fork? The FDA lifted what was already only a “voluntary” ban on these cloned meats, so it may well have already entered the market — unlabeled.
Even more disconcerting are a few of the major ties found in the history of breeding cattle, chickens and other livestock in this country. The grandson of John D. Rockefeller was Skull & Bones initiate class of 1928 John Rockefeller Prentice — a pioneer of artificial insemination whose firm revolutionized the breeders market from a regional-only stud basis to the capability to sire “genetically superior” cattle nationally and worldwide with ease – both for beef and dairy production — through the possibilities afforded by freezing bull semen.
Prentice’s life work was shaped by that of his parents. His mother, Alta Rockefeller Prentice, the third daughter of robber baron John D. Rockefeller, made Prentice the descendent of the world’s most prominent eugenics family. His father, Colonel Ezra Parmalee Prentice, was a leading Chicago lawyer, part of a prestigious firm. Alta and Ezra purchased a 1,400 acre tract in Massachusetts circa 1910, constructed a 72-room mansion, called Elm Tree House, they considered a “summer home” that was completed by about 1928. The estate, known as Mount Hope Farms, was a leading experimental breeding farm, and employed several geneticists throughout the 1930s and 1940s who worked to produce more profitable livestock, notably cattle and poultry.
The advances made at Mount Hope provided the foundation for John Rockefeller Prentice’s work in cattle breeding.
His company American Breeders Service (ABS), founded in 1941, became a giant in the industry, and very much on the cutting edge of artificial insemination and, eventually, cloning. By 1953, it was the first to produce a living calf in the U.S. from frozen semen. Prentice sold the company to W.R. Grace amid failing health ahead of his death in 1972. By 1988, ABS Global Inc. became the first firm to clone bulls from a split embryo, and later, by 1997 achieved a major breakthrough, cloning the first cow from a single somatic cell, then under ownership by Protein Genetics, Inc.
What’s really in your food? And who defines what food is anyway? A clone of a clone of a clone?
It should be noted at the time ABS announced they had unveiled a new stem-cell based technique for cloning cows back in 1997, many leaders in the biotech industry called it a giant leap toward approval for cloning humans. The Sun Sentinel reported:
The apparent ease with which the ABS technique can convert specialized cells into stem cells not only improves the commercial viability of cloning, it also may remove some of the ethical barriers that led the commission to advise against human cloning, Charo said.
“When the presidential commission recommended against human cloning, it did so because we saw the Scottish technique as being too unsafe now to try on human babies,” she said.
“If stem-cell cloning eliminates those safety problems, it moves us forward more quickly to the point at which human cloning is at least safe.” [emphasis added]
As reported in 1997 news articles, the major incentive for ABS Global or any cloning firm is to increase beef production.
In turn, it is hope that cloned animals can aid in increased production through genetic improvement, for more beef and diary products per head, through of course, genetic modification.
Further, as Deseret News reported back in 1997, some hope to add genes for the production of drugs – so-called “pharming” for pharmaceutical drugs and components – using cloned cattle as a viable vector for this production:
Clones, produced without sexual reproduction, are exact genetic duplicates of another animal. Cloned cattle would be useful because they could be genetically manipulated to produce impressive amounts of milk or beef.[…]
Cloning might also allow the insertion of genes that would cause a sheep or cow to produce drugs or other valuable substances in its milk.
Are any genetically-modified beef products on the market today? Are we eating cloned beef?
Without labeling or any sort of public declaration to confirm or refute this, but rather a laissez faire attitude from the leading federal regulatory agencies, those questions are very difficult to answer.
Many who follow the issue closely say it is only a matter of time, if not already too late.