It has begun. Breakfast may soon be trimmings of cloned pig's bacon, a jar of cloned cow milk and a side plate of cloned beef or goat burger; 'Frankenstein foods', as some refer to it.
After 5 years of research the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of US is getting ready to pass a bill allowing the sale of cloned animal products.
"We based our decision on looking at the health of the animal," says Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. "If this technology were going to introduce any hazards into the food supply, we ought to see some of those health effects occurring in the animal clones".
The FDA proposal has set top supermarket suppliers in jitters. According to recent polls like the Pew Initiative for Food and Biotechnology; there are indications that the American public is still wary of cloned food.
Cloning has been a matter of public fascination and debate since Scottish scientists announced in 1997 that they had successfully created a copy of a sheep named Dolly. Clones are made by transferring genetic material from an adult cell into an egg whose nucleus has been removed. Scientists then stimulate cell division in a lab until the cloned embryo is ready to be implanted into a female host animal.
As this is the case the public may have the final say. The FDA has agreed that a final decision will only be taken after public opinion is garnered within a time period of three months.
Debate still exists whether these foods if sold, should be labeled specially. According to FDA scientists, by the time clones reached 6 to 18 months of age, they are virtually indistinguishable from conventionally bred animals.
Hence, labels should only be used if the health characteristics of a food are significantly altered by how it is produced, according to Barb Glenn of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
However, Andrew Kimbrell at the Center for Food Safety claims many clones have deformities, and that there's little taste for this. "The vast majority of Americans do not want to consume meat or dairy products from cloned animals." He says, referring to recent food poisonings.
"This administration has not been paying attention to food safety. So this is like a Katrina on your plate."