The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently considering whether it should allow cloned animals, their by-products and their offspring into the food supply.

Only a small minority of US farmers are raising cloned animals, mainly because of the cost of the cloning process, which stands at around US$10,000. Most of the hundred cloned animals in the US are breeding stock; therefore the issue is currently whether their offspring and milk should be allowed to enter the food supply. A cloned animal is an identical copy of the original - the genes have not been altered in any way, so it should be perfectly safe to eat their meat or by-products, according to a report by the US National Academy of Sciences.

The FDA is likely to decide on this issue later in the year but if plans are allowed to go ahead, milk and meat from cloned cows could be on supermarket shelves as early as next year, and meat from the offspring of cloned pigs might be ready for sale in 2004.