Would You Eat A Cloned Cow?

clone cloning dna animals horse cow pig AP / CBS

For farmer Ron Schaaf his daily dairy routine always ends on a sour note because nearly every drop of milk from his favorite cow gets poured down the drain.

"We feel it's kind of ridiculous," says Schaaf. "It's a waste for one thing."

It's a waste for him, and as CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan reports, a worry for the government.

The milk comes from a clone: a copy of a prize-winning Holstein, which for now, the Food and Drug Administration considers an untested link in the nation's food chain.

The FDA is also watching rancher Dean Kephart.

He has a bull so perfect, cloning him was just good business.

He thought he was only getting one clone. Instead, he got five perfect sides of beef: a cattle breeder's dream team - all made in a lab.

"They ate and drank and acted just like other cattle, and nothing weird," says Kephart.

So he's frozen hundreds of samples of their semen, waiting for the FDA to decide if his new hi-tech herd can soon have a place at the nation's dinner table.

"Everybody's looking for better genetics," says Don Coover, their veterinarian. "I would be no more afraid of eating one of these animals or an offspring of one of these animals than I would be to eat an identical twin."

And the National Academy of Science agrees.

So far, it says there is no evidence clones present a food safety concern. But that hasn't satisfied some consumer groups who wonder why so many clones never make it past puberty.

"If we really don't understand why 90 percent of cloned animals die, then there's a lot we don't understand about what could be going on in that animal," says Jean Halloran, of the Consumer Policy Institute.

And some old time ranchers don't want to understand.

"Messing with Mother Nature, I just don't think it's right," says rancher B.J. Byrd.

"Two old boys had a cow and a bull and made that," says rancher Rick Fowler. "It didn't take a laboratory, it took just two good ranchers, two good cowmen."

But proponents insist cloning is just another breeding tool, more evolutionary than revolutionary.

"We had people tell us that artificial insemination is something that God never intended, and we shouldn't be doing that," says Coover. "Now it's the norm."

For Schaaf, there are no worries. Milk from his clone, he says, is as pure as it is white. And he's willing to bet the farm the nation will never taste the difference.
  • Jaime Holguin

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