Chefs Chime in On: Genetically Modified and Cloned Meat

The culinary world is constantly in flux, with new developments and innovations appearing every day. In this series, we offer chefs the opportunity to share their own unique insights into a culinary trend currently making headlines.

As the world’s population continues to grow, new efforts are needed to respond to the environmental impact of the meat industry. While many have attempted to address this growing issue by lessening meat consumption by emphasizing other seasonal and sustainably grown alternatives, others have taken to what have been criticized as less natural methods to attempt to satiate the growing demand for meat.

Earlier last year, headlines began appearing reporting on the emergence of genetically modified meat and seafood. The modification process entails species having DNA material manipulated in order to speed up their maturation process, thereby lessening the time needed to raise each animal before slaughter. The theory is that this quicker raising time period would have less of an environmental impact as well as a more immediate economic return for the farmer.

Salmon became the first genetically modified animal approved by the FDA for human consumption, with the organization declaring the meat safe for both humans and the environment. However only shortly after the initial decision, the FDA reversed itself, temporarily banning the fish until the organization can agree upon how the fish should be labeled.

In addition to the introduction of genetically modified meat, news also broke that China was establishing a government sponsored “cloning park” set to open early this year with the lofty goal of eventually creating over a million cow embryos to be harvested for eventual meat production. These cloned animals can be selected based on beneficial features, making them attractive to farmers seeking a higher level of security and reliability. The ethics of this move have naturally been hotly debated.

So how do chefs feel about these future possibilities? Would they consider working with cloned or genetically modified meats?

Read on to find out…

Rory Schepisi, Chef of Boot Hill Saloon and Grill, Texas

“Being a steakhouse owner and chef, you would think I would have a biased opinion about cloned and genetically engineered meat. To be honest, if I could guarantee the exact same quality, texture, marbling, and flavor of my cuts of beef, I would hands down be an advocate for it.  Till then CAB [Certified Angus Beef] is the closest I can achieve to those expectations. 

When it comes to chicken anything would be better than the ‘roid injected, Godzilla breasts that are being produced today. Only organic chicken is up to par for quality.”

Jeffrey Weiss, Chef and Author of Charcutería: The Soul of Spain

“For me, the jury is still out on cloned meat for human consumption. Like any new scientific advancement, I would want to see testing and data proving that it’s safe before I would even consider using it in my kitchens. 

That said, you have to wonder: would a cloned animal raised in a humane fashion, on a proper diet, be better or worse for you than the mass marketed, hormone-packed, frankenfood that’s already in our agricultural system? Looking at you, McNuggets.”

Hagop Giragossian, Partner and Culinary Director of Dog Haus

“At Dog Haus, we're striving to deliver the best sustainably produced food possible. We care about where our food comes from, how it is raised, and how it affects the world around us. 

Genetically modified foods do not fit our idea of cleanly produced and carefully grown ingredients, nor do they fall in line with our desire to serve the highest quality items to our customers."