FDA Declares Cloned Foods to Be Safe for Humans
January 11, 2008 -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a draft risk assessment saying meat and milk from most cloned animals or their offspring is safe for consumers to eat. The agency is expected to approve the sale of products from cloned livestock in 2008.
After looking at more than 100 studies of cattle, pigs, and goats, federal scientists found virtually no difference between the chemical composition of food from clones and food from conventional livestock. And studies in which rodents were fed food from clones have found no evidence of health effects. Agency officials say their assessment has been peer-reviewed by a number of independent cloning and animal health experts, who agree with their findings.
Clones are genetic replicas, typically made from a single skin cell of a desirable animal. Industry and ranchers have pushed for FDA approval of cloned animal products because they believe the technology will allow them to provide consumers with better tasting meat and more milk and eggs. This would be achieved by using cloned animals as breeding stock to introduce improved traits into animal herds.
Those opposed to FDA’s findings and pending approval are calling for a regulatory plan that will include tracking food from clones and watching for impacts on human health, as well as the labeling of cloned products.
FDA’s approach was consistent with the recommendations of several reports from the National Academies. Animal Biotechnology: Science-Based Concerns concludes that food products of cloned animals are likely to pose a low level of food safety concern and recommends comparative studies of food composition between clones and non-cloned animals. Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects recommends studying the safety of genetically altered food on a case-by-case basis focusing not on the technique employed, whether genetic engineering or conventional breeding practices, but on the final product.