By Alia Wilson

Two weeks ago the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave preliminary approval to meat and milk from cloned animals, declaring the products to be safe for consumption. Although there is no scientific evidence showing differences between meat and milk from clones and conventional livestock, there is still hesitancy from the public regarding the new food source.

Despite federal endorsement, it is unlikely that food from the offspring of the cloned specimens will be seen on market shelves until 2008.

The FDA will not approve the proposal completely until it has received feedback from a public comment period that ends April 2 of this year.

According to a poll conducted by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, 64 percent of Americans surveyed were uncomfortable with animal cloning, while 22 percent did not have a problem with it.

"It is clearly very new science and it’s the offspring of cloned animals that will eventually produce consumable items, which is way down the road," wrote Scott Berlin, director of Dining and Hospitality at UCSC, to City on a Hill Press (CHP) via email.

When asked about whether the university would ever incorporate the newly approved resource, Berlin said that it was too soon to tell.

Bijal Shah, a third-year business major, felt that the concept of cloning meats would not appeal to consumers but is still an accomplishment for the food industry.

"I think it’s a disgusting idea from the perspective of the consumer, but for businesses I think it will go far as people like to explore new ideas," Shah said. "But there will probably be a lot of protests."

Confusion over the cloning process has led many to shy away from the idea of consuming the products of a clone’s offspring, resulting in what ethicists have coined as the "Yuck Factor." In hopes to dissuade consumers from skepticism, the FDA is using education as its tool to clarify that the process is no different than artificial insemination.

The FDA homepage lists reasons why cloning should not be considered genetic engineering but rather assisted reproduction. It states that no adding or taking away of genes are involved.

Many organic farmers and national organic consultants such as Al and Erin Rosas of Rosas Farms in Florida do not believe that food from cloned animals should be declared as safe to eat until more tests are taken.

"Cloning meat is scary because it is messing with Mother Nature," Erin Rosas told City on a Hill Press Tuesday just before speaking as a guest on the Florida radio station 98.5 KTK to discuss the matter.

"We call it Franken-food. It should come with a warning label," Rosas said. "My husband and I believe the best path for food is the natural course. To alter that, whether by selective mutation or selective genetics, is wrong."

Rosas continued to say that with the U.S. producing 14.8 billion pounds of meat every month for its population of 300 million, there is no need to push food from cloned animals.

"We don’t need to be spending $200,000 on a single cow," said her husband Al Rosas. "Why do we need to be first to clone a goat or a cow? I wouldn’t want to be the first to walk onto a land mine field. I just don’t see a reason to go there."