Councilwoman Seeks Cloned Meat Labeling


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Without a label on the package, it’s nearly impossible to know much about the origins of a piece of raw meat. So with the imminent arrival of cloned meat at a supermarket near you, Councilwoman Gale Brewer wants those distinctions to be made compulsory.

“Just like any other item that we find in our supermarket that is identified we would just like to know it,” Brewer said, after proposing legislation to the Council yesterday which would require labeling cloned meat products for sale in New York City.

Though the Food and Drug Administration declared cloned meat safe for consumption in January, the idea of eating a hamburger derived from a clone’s progeny feels strangely science-fictional, off-putting, and labeling it as such could make it hard for the public to digest.

“The industry would have to make it clear that it’s the same or better or different,” Brewer said, adding that if it’s safe and the price is right New Yorkers might not be so squeamish when they see the label.

Other labels already help consumers make more informed choices in the butcher aisle and her proposed legislation is no different, she said. “I’m probably not the most educated consumer so I need somebody else to tell me things like kosher, organic and free range,” Brewer said.

“I remember originally with organic we thought it was sort of healthy and we thought it was like Vermont farmers or something at the beginning, and now we know it’s big business,” she added.

A cloned animal carries way too hefty a price to slaughter. The cloned cattle’s offspring would likely wind up on the dinner table. A clear definition of what constitutes a cloned meat product would have to be developed, Brewer said, but would probably be easy because farms would have a focus on producing cloned meat.

As for enforcing such a law, it would work in the same fashion as some of the other labels, she said. If passed, violating retailers could face fine ranging from $25 to $250.

Brewer plans to pitch similar legislation pertaining to dairy products coming from animals of cloned lineage. She expects to present that to the Council within the next two months.