Cloned animals safe to eat, concludes FDA
Published Tuesday, January 15, 2008 3:14PM EST
Meat and milk from cloned animals is as safe as that from "normal" animals, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has concluded in a 900-plus page safety report.
The FDA says the data show that the meat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones "are as safe as food we eat every day."
"After years of detailed study and analysis, the Food and Drug Administration has concluded that meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals," the agency said in a statement Tuesday.
They noted that their report was limited to cows, pigs and goats; they didn't have enough data to comment on the safety of food from clones of other animal species, such as sheep.
U.S. producers agreed back in 2001 to not bring meat or milk from clones into the food supply, until the FDA could further evaluate the issue. With this report, the last U.S. regulatory hurdle to marketing cloned meat and milk products is now removed.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization applauded the FDA decision in a statement on their website. It says cloning "can effectively help livestock producers deliver what consumers want: high-quality, safe, abundant and nutritious foods in a consistent manner."
But it'll likely be years before consumers can find foods from cloned animals on store shelves. That's because the costs of cloning still make it economically unfeasible.
Nevertheless, the FDA is preparing for the day when manufacturers will want to market meat and milk from cloned animals. It says the first step will be to determine how to phase out the existing voluntary moratorium.
For now, the FDA is asking cloning companies, such as Viagen Inc. and Trans Ova Genetics, to continue the moratorium a little longer, to allow consumers to adjust to the concept.
Several large companies have said they have no plans to sell milk or meat from cloned animals because of consumer anxiety about the technology.
The FDA says that when the market is ready for cloned meat and dairy, it will not require special labeling or other additional measures, "because food derived from these sources is no different from food derived from conventionally bred animals."
It also notes that it is unlikely that the meat and milk from cloned animals will be available for sale in any significant amount; instead, it will likely come from the offspring of those animals. That's because clones would be used for breeding, while their sexually reproduced offspring would be used for producing meat and milk for the marketplace.
Clones would likely be used primarily as breeding animals to introduce desirable traits into herds more rapidly than would be possible using conventional breeding.
As for Canada, a spokesman for Health Canada said there are currently no foods from cloned animals approved for sale in Canada.