US: Food from cloned animals is safe, says FDA
US food safety authorities ruled today (15 January) that food from cloned animals is safe to eat.
The US Food and Drug Administration said that healthy cloned cattle, swine and goats, their offspring and products from them are as safe to eat as conventionally produced food.
The safety of food from clones of sheep, however, remains in question, the FDA said.
The FDA's stance comes just days after the EU's food safety watchdog concluded that products from cloned animals are "very unlikely" to pose any threat to consumers.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) publicised its stance in a "draft scientific opinion" and has launched a public consultation on the issue.
The FDA said no labeling on food from cloned animals would be necessary because "food derived from these sources is no different from food derived from conventionally bred animals".
Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said: "Meat and milk from cattle, swine, and goat clones are as safe as food we eat every day."
Scientists insist that cloning will be not be used to create herds of identical animals for products on sale to consumers. They say clones will be used for breeding offspring with desirable traits including disease resistance. This offspring could then potentially reach dinner plates.
Those in the organic industry, however, believe fears over the safety of products from cloning could drive consumers to buy more organic foodstuffs.
"Consumers concerned about experiments with their food supply or humane treatment of livestock are very uncomfortable with cloning technology," said Mark A. Kastel, senior farm policy analyst at The Cornucopia Institute.
"Regardless of what the proponents claim this is all about bottom-line profit and producing more and more of our food from giant industrial-scale farming operations."
Kastel claimed that widespread adoption of cloning could lead to the "dramatic loss" of genetic diversity in livestock.
"This may leave farmers and our nation's food supply susceptible to devastating epidemics due to a monoculture gene pool—think the Irish potato famine."
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