Concerns about cloning

Knox biology professor Judy Thorn comments on the possible pitfalls of agricultural cloning.

Excerpt from the Register-Mail:

Do meat producers dream of steak from cloned cattle?

That’s one of the questions raised in the wake of a report released this week by the Food and Drug Administration that concluded meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals.

But according to the owner of Thrushwood Farms and two local biology professors, the safety of meat and milk from cloned animals is far from the most important issue raised by the prospect of widespread cloning…..

Variety cheated in cloning

A developmental biologist, Thorn said concerns about cloning should focus on its impact on genetic variety, not the possibility of physical harm from eating the meat of a cloned animal.

“The biggest reason to clone a particular animal would be to skip the breeding process and make a direct copy of it,” Thorn said. “The concern is down the road. The concern is the long-term effects of limiting genetic variability.”

Thorn used corn as an example of ever-decreasing genetic variability.

“The thing that is scary is when you have bred corn so it grows perfectly in a specific environment and then the environment radically changes,” Thorn said. “You are going to be in big trouble because you no longer have genetic variety.”