US says food from cloned animals safe
Updated: 11 minutes ago
The US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday took a big step towards approving the sale of meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring without special labelling.
A draft FDA risk assessment found that food from clones of cattle, pigs and goats was as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals.
However, cloned meat and milk is unlikely to reach the shops before late 2007, at the earliest. Agricultural biotechnology and livestock companies will continue to observe a moratorium on their commercial introduction until the FDA has assessed public comments on the draft assessment and issued a final ruling.
The agency will receive hostile comments from some influential groups, such as the Center for Food Safety and the Consumer Federation of America, which accused the FDA of "imposing these products on a public that opposes cloning technology and does not want to consume cloned foods".
But the Biotechnology Industry Organisation welcomed the long-awaited FDA assessment. Jim Greenwood, BIO president, said: "Animal cloning is the latest step in a long history of reproductive tools for farmers and ranchers, and can effectively help livestock producers deliver what consumers want: high-quality, safe, abundant and nutritious foods in a conscientious and consistent manner."
Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said: "Based on FDA analysis of hundreds of peer-reviewed publications and other studies on the health and food composition of clones and their offspring, the draft risk assessment has determined that meat and milk from clones and their offspring are as safe as food we eat every day. Cloning poses no unique risks to animal health when compared to other assisted reproductive technologies currently in use in US agriculture."
If given final approval, the ruling would allow the sale of food from cloned cattle, pigs and goats, but not sheep, for the first time in the United States.
"No unique risks for human food consumption were identified in cattle, swine or goat clones," the FDA said in a draft risk assessment, which now enters a public comment period before the agency makes its final decision.
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