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FDA Finds No Risk to Eating Meat and Milk of Cloned Animals


ROCKVILLE, Md. -- Meat and milk from the offspring of cloned cattle, pigs, and goats may soon find its way to American dinner tables, with the FDA's blessing.

ROCKVILLE, Md., Dec. 28 -- Meat and milk from the offspring of cloned cattle, pigs, and goats may soon find its way to American dinner tables, with the FDA's blessing.

That was the bottom line of three documents released today by the FDA, which concluded that beef, ham, and cheese from cloned livestock is as safe as beef, ham, and cheese from animals bred the old-fashioned way.

The FDA risk-assessment documents, as well as a proposed risk management plan, and a draft of the agency's proposed rules to guide production of cloned livestock, all reached the same conclusion: by all measures -- blood values, health records, and animal behavior -- that there was no difference between cloned animals and conventionally bred animals.

Moreover, the FDA said that milk from cloned cows did not differ significantly from milk obtained from conventional dairy stock. For that reason, the FDA said that once the recommendations graduate from a 90-day public review process, the meat and dairy products from cloned animals would land on the same supermarket meat and dairy cases as meat and milk from conventionally bred livestock.

The documents released today will be published on the FDA website and will be open for public comment and criticism for the next 90 days.

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) has already signaled that it is one of the critics of the FDA proposals. Carol Tucker-Foreman, director of food policy at CFA, said cloned meat and milk wouldn't be any cheaper or safer than traditional meat and dairy products. For consumers the bottom line is clear, she said. No benefit.

Animal rights organizations are also expected to raise objections to the policy. Farmers, however, are expected to favor the changes because they would be able to clone prize animals, which would allow the farmers to upgrade the quality of their livestock.

In the draft guidance document, the FDA did not recommend any special measures relating to human food use of offspring of clones of any species.

Because of their cost and rarity, the FDA predicted that clones would be used as are any other elite breeding stock -- to pass on naturally occurring, desirable traits such as disease resistance and higher quality meat to production herds.

As a result, the FDA said it expects that almost all of the food that comes from the cloning process will be from sexually reproduced offspring and descendents of clones, and not the valuable clones themselves.

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