Cloned and GMO Animals
The first GMO pigs were created by the USDA at its Beltsville, Maryland research center. The GMO research project intended to produce leaner pigs, for less fatty bacon. But as the National Academy of Sciences noted, the “Beltsville pigs” have become a widely known example of animal cruelty from genetic experimentation. The low-fat pigs were hideously deformed and suffered “diarrhea, mammary development in males, lethargy, arthritis, lameness, skin and eye problems, loss of libido, and disruption of estrous cycles. Of the 19 pigs expressing the transgene, 17 died within the first year. Two were stillborn and four died as neonates, while the remainder died between two and twelve months of age.” Yet to this day, the USDA Beltsville station website includes a picture of the low-fat pork in its “celebration of scientific excellence” page.
All in a Good Cause?, a 2002 paper by GeneWatch on GMO animals.
A 2010 Humane Society paper concludes that the use of genetic engineering may make animal cruelty more profitable.
A December 2011 NY Times article on cloning failures, including quote from Dolly creator Ian Wilmut noting that “cloning appears to create serious abnormalities in almost all embryos.”
A 2012 article (a chapter in a biotech text) by a Humane Society physician on animal welfare issues around GMO animals.
A 2005 peer-reviewed paper on biosafety risks of GMO fish and shellfish.
Consumers Union 2010 comments to FDA on GMO salmon.
Jean-Michel Cousteau on threats from GMO fish.
The Ecologist (2002): The Horrors of Intensive Salmon Farming.
Virus found in GMO salmon.
Consumers Union says FDA’s analysis of cloned food safety has “major shortcomings” and should be withdrawn.
Not Ready for Prime Time: FDA’s Flawed Approach to Assessing the Safety of Food from Animal Clones, a detailed review of FDA’s analysis by the Center for Food Safety. Also, see the Center’s factsheet on animal cloning.
In an op-ed, Salk Institute biologist David Schubert argues that cloning is a “new and untested technology” in milk and meat production, posing unknown risks to consumers.
The American Anti-Vivisection Society on risks to animal health from cloning, in response to FDA’s review.
A Canadian report quotes a cloning scientist cited widely in FDA’s assessment, saying that studies have found significant differences in food from clones, and warning that “there is a rush to accept those clones.”
The biotech industry and cloning proponents repeatedly claim that clones will not be used for food, ignoring the fact that cloned dairy cows were the first cloned animals sold for food production. In Time Magazine, the CEO of ViaGen, one of the country’s leading animal cloning companies, admitted that once they are done breeding, clones will be used for “burgers … or dog food.”
Examples of animal cloning failures and scientist statements on cloning risks:
- University of Tennessee scientists are so surprised to find their nine month old cloned cow dead in a field that they speculated the death might have been due to a lightening strike or poisonous weed.
- Brazilian scientists express surprise when their cloned cow turns out to be a bull. “He may not be the clone we hoped for but he’d at least be a clone,” said one (clearly confused) scientist.
- Australia’s first cloned sheep unexpectedly died at age three, of unknown causes. Scientists stated that the clone was healthy one afternoon then dead the next.
- Two of three cloned calves died weeks after their birth, to the surprise of scientists at Cal State University in Chico, who were working together with the biotech company Cyagra. Prior to their death, one University researcher stated, “They should perform just like any other heifer calf.” Afterwards, she observed that “Given the early appearance of health, the loss of the [clones] was unexpected.”
- After all four of his cloned pigs suffered heart attacks, one cloning researcher coined the term “Adult clone sudden death syndrome,” a common and unpredictable result of animal cloning.
- In a 2006 CS Monitor report on cloning, leading scientists warned that the inherent risks of animal cloning showed that human cloning would never be acceptable. Rudolph Jaenisch, a leading cloning scientist stated, “You cannot make normal clones. The ones that survive will just be less abnormal than the ones that die early. There has been no progress – none – in the last six years in making cloning more safe.” A bioethicist stated, “(T)he last 10 years have shown that cloning is a difficult process to control, often goes wrong, and that many of the reasons it goes wrong are probably inextricably tied up to the cloning process itself.”
- A Japanese cloning scientist said that, for at least some clones, “some unpredictable defects will appear in the long run.” Jaenisch added, “(T)o look at [cloned] animals at one point in time and say they are healthy and normal is really wishful thinking.”
- Ian Wilmut, the lead scientist responsible for creating Dolly, the first cloned mammal (who was euthanized at half the age of a normal sheep), warns that using clones for food could threaten consumers’ health, noting that “even small imbalances in hormones, proteins and fat levels could alter the quality and even safety of meat and milk.”
- A 2006 report from Japan stated that “abnormality has now become the norm” in the country’s cattle cloning programs. Despite the clones’ health issues, the report estimates that more than 300 cloned cattle had been shipped for human consumption.
- A 2007 “perspective” in Sciencenotes that “the percentage of normal animals born from cloned embryos is extremely small…(and) underscores the fact that this manmade procedure can sometimes, albeit randomly, work.”
- Farmer Greg Wiles, who had the first cloned cows returned to his dairy farm, told the Associated Press that one of the two clones is sickly and never developed normally. Government researchers declined his request to study the sick clone.
Diaries of Despair, an award-winning 2000 series by the UK Daily Express exposing horrific animal cruelty in GMO xenotransplantation experiments.