Before the Coronavirus, few of us had ever heard of "mRNA technology." Fast forward a few years and it's now a well-known buzzword and hot-button issue. Lately the discussion has moved from use in humans to the use of mRNA technology in livestock – it’s been creating quite a stir, so we wanted to take a moment to touch base with you all on this topic and address any concerns you may have.
Specifically, some of you have reached out to us to ask if these vaccines are being administered to our beef supply and if it affects our Survival Fresh Canned Beef. Well, we have some answers for you! In this blog post, we'll take a look at common concerns we’ve heard surrounding this issue, the reason for the uptick in news on this topic, and what the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has to say about it all. Plus, we’ll let you in on where we at Survival Frog stand on the issue.
So, sit back, and let’s dive in headfirst and tackle this topic together.
The Benefits and Risks of mRNA Vaccines in Beef - A Giant Question Mark
Here's the thing...in the future, mRNA vaccines may prove to be a boon to the beef industry – but right now, the facts on the ground are that they haven’t gone through any long-term safety testing in animal trials. As a result, we're currently in the dark about potential side effects and unknowns associated with mRNA vaccines in beef production.
We've found this is the crux of the issue and the most common objection – it's the unknowns that people concerned about. How will it affect the cattle? How will it affect the people who eat the cattle? At this stage, we honestly don’t know.
We've found that second question is a sticking point with our Survival Frog customers and many of the folks who are cautiously approaching this issue – will beef that's been injected with mRNA be able to pass on genetic code material to people who eat it?
On the one hand, many scientists point out the extreme fragility of mRNA and argue it couldn’t survive stomach acid if it were ingested.
On the other hand, Chinese researchers recently demonstrated that an oral vaccine was successfully fed to mice through compounds called exosomes derived from cow's milk.
All of that is to say – we don’t yet know the answer to this question.
What Do Ranchers Think About This?
How do the cattle ranchers feel about all this? It’s a mixed bag, but many of them are as concerned as you are. For one thing, the process of producing mRNA vaccines requires large quantities of energy and resources, which could increase the costs of beef production. Cattle ranchers are already facing record high feed costs, droughts, and record low cattle numbers...and consumers are certainly feeling it in their wallets.
(If you've lived through the last few years, then you’re all-too-familiar with another new buzzword – "meat-flation.")
According to the USDA, "With even fewer cattle expected to be marketed in 2024, beef supplies are projected to remain tight while prices are forecast to increase."
Fact is, a fair amount of ranchers are in damage control mode. They’re trying to regrow their herds, and are reluctant to introduce a new – and as yet untested – variable into the mix that could affect their herds even more than they've been affected already.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association's Official Stance on mRNA Vaccination in Herds
In response to the swirling questions surrounding mRNA vaccination in cattle, The National Cattlemen's Beef Association had this to say:
“There are no current mRNA vaccines licensed for use in beef cattle in the United States. Cattle farmers and ranchers do vaccinate cattle to treat and prevent many diseases, but presently none of these vaccines include mRNA technology.”
Short and to the point.
Texas Takes a Stand
Other organizations are putting consumer's concerns as top priority as well. Here's what Sid Miller, Commissioner of Texas's Department of Agriculture, had to say on the matter:
"Since news of the development of mRNA vaccines and mRNA-related treatments for livestock came to the attention of the Texas Department of Agriculture, we have been working towards developing a fact and science-based assessment of the risks associated with this technology.
Our analysis will include the clinical research, the structure of existing Texas law, and the public policy, economic, and production impact of the different policy prescriptions we may adopt. I aim to ensure that Texas agriculture remains safe, trusted, healthy, and wholly uninfected by dangerous or unproven technology.
I personally take this issue very seriously. No political hot takes. Just a well-reasoned and well-researched proposal based on a wide range of input from stakeholders, scientists, agriculturalists, and other experts. We are looking at this issue at TDA and will share your concerns.”
As far as we’re concerned, he nailed it, and at Survival Frog we quite agree – we aim to ensure Survival Fresh remains safe, trusted, healthy, all-natural, and untouched by unproven technology. No political hot takes, and we share your concerns.
Why's This on Everyone's Minds Now, Anyway?
A big part of the uptick was the introduction of Missouri House Bill 1169 earlier this year. The goal of the bill was to increase food labeling transparency. Specifically, the bill would require products containing mRNA-based vaccines or any genetically modified elements to be labeled as such so that consumers can make informed decisions about what they are eating. The bill was voted down in April, leaving many supporters disappointed and wondering what policy makers were trying to hide.
The Lobbyist Who Confused Everyone
Here's a confusing curveball: During the proceedings, Shannon Cooper, a lobbyist from the Missouri Cattlemen's Association told House members he had "double vaccinated" his herd "with vaccinations that have this mRNA." His testimony is completely at odds with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's official stance, leaving many scratching their heads in confusion.
In line with this topic as a whole, his statement raised more questions than it answered. While we don't know what he vaccinated his cattle with, we do know that the National Cattlemen's Beef Association said there are no mRNA-based vaccines licensed for use in cattle at this time.
Could Mr. Cooper have been mistaken about the nature of the vaccine he gave his cattle? It’s possible. Could Mr. Cooper have vaccinated his cattle with an unlicensed vaccine? It's possible.
He said he vaccinated his herd against bovine respiratory disease, and there is currently an active trial for "Novel mRNA Vaccine Technology for Prevention of Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus" happening at Iowa State University. Official documentation says the study began in late 2021 using mice as proof of concept, with the intention of "switching to a full cow vaccination and challenge system in year 2." Simple math suggests the newly developed vaccine is being tested on cows as we speak.
Bottom Line: If You Want to Enjoy Beef and Hamburger Without Any Added Drama (or mRNA Vaccines), Choose Survival Fresh
Given the growing concern we've heard our Survival Frog customers voice recently over the use of mRNA vaccines in beef, we wanted to send you this update and address your concerns head on.
First of all – you know we draw a hard line in the sand when it comes to quality.
We use ONLY American farmers. And we only use premium beef we’re proud of. You can count on our beef to contain NO added fillers, preservatives, growth hormones, or chemicals.
And please know – you can add NO mRNA vaccines to that list.
As a matter of fact, we can confidently confirm none of our meats have mRNA vaccines in them.
We’re in constant touch with our farmers, our family-run cannery, and your concerns. It’s our shared mission to provide you with all-natural meat. With Survival Fresh, you don't have to worry about anything unnatural – chemical, preservative, or otherwise – added to your meat.
So, if you're concerned about chowing down on something funky down next time you want to enjoy some tender beef, you can rest easy knowing that Survival Fresh is good old-fashioned beef, pure and simple.