Ready to eat?

Published: Monday 15 December 2003

-- (Credit: EMKAY)In the beginning of November 2003, the us Food and Drug Administration (fda) released the findings of its risk assessment study on whether the meat and milk from cloned animals and their progeny was as safe to eat as conventionally bred livestock. It was "likely to be as safe", the executive summary concluded. Has this brought America closer to serving such items across the counter?

The report minimises the impact of cloning on animal health. Clones do tend to be oversized at birth and suffer health problems in infancy, it points out, but existing food regulations would ensure such animals wouldn't find their way to the slaughterhouse or to the milking shed.

The fda has begun 60 days of public consultation on cloned animals. On November 5, 2003, at a public hearing held to discuss the report, half of a ten-member Veterinary Advisory Committee said the report was inconclusive. Members said they needed more information to decide. "The risk assessment is characterised by a lack of hard data," said Carol Foreman, director of food policy, Consumer Federation of America. "The information on milk is only based on one study." Because cloning is a new technology, researchers had to rely on limited data from biotechnology companies. "It's unlikely that any company would give them data that cloning isn't safe," Foreman said.

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