Cloned meat, milk declared safe

By Xinhua

Los Angeles : The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared on Tuesday meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring is as safe as the natural version.

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“Meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine and goats and their offspring are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals,” said Randall Lutter, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for policy.

The FDA based its decision on dozens of studies conducted around the world that found that meat and milk from clones is biologically indistinguishable from the meat and milk offered in stores and restaurants today.

The action opens the door for products from cloned cattle, pigs and goats to enter the food supply without special labeling.

The FDA, in releasing their final risk assessment on the safety of cloning technology, asked producers to continue keeping cloned cattle, pigs and goats out of the food supply during a transition period of unspecified length to give the market time to adjust.

But products from the offspring of clones can be sold to the public immediately, the federal agency said.

Government scientists said they did not have enough information on cloned sheep or other species to rule that they were safe to eat.

Initially, only a small amount of steaks, pork and dairy products derived from clones will become available in grocery stores. But over the next three to five years — after ranchers have time to clone their most prized animals and those clones are able to breed — the products will become routine on store shelves, industry executives said.

But critics remain unconvinced. “The FDA’s bullheaded action today disregards the will of the public and the Senate,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C. “FDA’s action has placed the interests of a handful of biotech firms above those of the public they are charged with protecting.”

Senator Barbara Mikulski is pushing an amendment to the pending farm bill that would require the FDA to conduct further studies before ruling that clones are safe.