Cloned Bull May Boost Beef Safety
Michael Graczyk,
Associated Press Writer

December 19, 2000; College Station, TX (AP) -- "What they've done is identify an animal that appears to have resistance to these diseases and all they're doing is making another animal that's genetically identical to it," said Steven Kappes, an animal germ plasma and reproduction expert with the Agriculture Department's Research Service. "So they're not making the animal safer to eat." "What they're doing is just making more of something that is good," he said. "That is a key: to identify animals that are genetically superior in certain traits, and this allows us to make more of them."

Joe Templeton, a Texas A&M Professor of Genetics and Veterinary Pathobiology, said cloning was a key addition to disease control. "The diseases we spent billions of dollars eradicating in the United States are across the border," he said. "We import millions of cows a year. Many of those are infected and cause potential re-introduction of these diseases and another multibillion-dollar eradicating program." He also said genetic engineering was more reliable in preventing diseases than vaccines and antibiotics."You just turn them loose, let them eat the grass and enjoy," Templeton said. "When they go into the food market, they don't have antibiotics in them." Salmonellosis can cause diarrhea, fever, and cramps and is potentially fatal. Brucellosis carries the potential for brain infections and heart dysfunction, while TB is a deadly respiratory ailment.

The genetically engineered calf is [10 - 100] times more resistant to the diseases than a normal animal, said Garry Adams, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies. "But what is important is that if they are also vaccinated, they will then become super resistant," he said -- between [100 - 1,000] times more resistant.