Breeding cows for beef is often slow because the qualities of a top-grade cut, marbling and tenderness, are unknown until after a cow is slaughtered. That may change soon thanks to a newborn calf born healthy to the first cow cloned from a beef carcass. The mother, KC, is named after the kidney cell from which she was cloned. Her calf, Sunshine, was born naturally in mid-December, lively and fit at 72 pounds. The technology used to generate KC could also clone an animal from a freshly processed cut of beef, says Steven Stice, an animal scientist at the University of Georgia. Although cloned animals cannot legally enter the food chain, their offspring might soon: later this year the Food and Drug Administration is expected to weigh in on the safety of eating such animals, which an earlier FDA draft deemed safe.
This article was originally published with the title "KC & the Sunshine Cow" in Scientific American 292, 3, 31 (March 2005)