No one who follows the science ever doubted FDA would find cloning safe. Still, many people were silently hoping FDA would delay the inevitable for a while longer. Cloning someday may be a commercially viable production tool, but for the foreseeable future it's expected to see very limited use -- restricted to only the most valuable genetics.

One of the basic tenets of modern ag is to embrace the science, and base production and business decisions on facts, not perception. The animal breeding and genetic community sees cloning as a way to make improvements and ensure the propagation of profit-enhancing genetics.

Nevertheless, the science of cloning and consumer perceptions are so divergent that many fear any significant embrace of the technology offers more risk than benefit to the industry. Surveys show consumers simply aren't comfortable with eating products from cloned genetics. Ever since the scientific methodology was developed, the issue has never been about the science or its value; it's always been about consumer acceptance.

While FDA is responsible for reviewing the scientific literature, it isn't responsible for conducting a public relations campaign to educate consumers. Because the technology will affect so few animals, there's little incentive at this time to educate consumers, largely due to the cost and concern that doing so would unduly raise worries about the overall beef supply.

The industry likely will go about its business, utilizing the technology on a limited basis, unless it's forced to do otherwise by anti-beef activists attempting to mine the disconnect between science and perception in order to raise additional concerns about the safety of beef.
-- Troy Marshall