retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the California State Senate’s Health Committee has passed 6-3 a proposal that would “require every merchant along the food supply chain, from livestock producers to grocery store operators, to tell their customers that a product came from a cloned animal or its offspring.”

Opponents say that such a bill, if it were to become law, would create a laborious and unworkable labeling process, and it is expected that even if such a bill passed the California legislature and were signed into law, the courts eventually will determine whether it is legal. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar bill last year.

The Chronicle writes, “Until January, the sale of milk and meat from cloned livestock and their offspring was restrained only by a voluntary moratorium requested by federal authorities who were studying the potential health effects of the technology.

“But the voluntary restrictions were loosened after Jan. 15, when the Food and Drug Administration concluded that food from cloned cattle, pigs and goats and their offspring is safe to eat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture immediately cleared the offspring of cloned animals for sale but asked owners of clones to continue to observe a voluntary moratorium on marketing the animals. The USDA is working with industry representatives on a plan to usher clones into the food supply.”

KC's View:
There already have been stories about how, despite the supposed moratorium, foods have been making it into the food supply…so maybe the point is moot. On the other hand, maybe the fact that the moratorium has been violated is the best argument for mandatory labeling – since the voluntary thing clearly didn’t work out.

I understand that the labeling process may be cumbersome, but I think that more and better information is always smarter than keeping information from the shopper. And since cloning is a new technology that not everybody is confident about, people simply deserve to know.