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FDA approves cloned animal products

Preliminary findings rule foodstuffs safe

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The US's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday declared foodstuffs derived from some cloned animals safe.

The FDA said: "After years of detailed study and analysis, the Food and Drug Administration has concluded that meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals. There was insufficient information for the agency to reach a conclusion on the safety of food from clones of other animal species, such as sheep."

While there are currently around 570 cloned animals in the US, the livestock industry has "so far followed a voluntary ban on marketing food from the animals", Reuters explains. Were it to embrace cloning, consumers wouldn't see derivative products for four to five years.

The FDA doesn't expect cloned animals "to enter the food supply in any significant number", since they'll be used for breeding. It elaborates: "Instead, their sexually reproduced offspring would be used for producing meat and milk for the marketplace."

Controversially, the FDA will not require "labelling or any other additional measures for food from cattle, swine, and goat clones, or their offspring because food derived from these sources is no different from food derived from conventionally bred animals".

Advocacy group Food and Water Watch warned in a statement: "Despite widespread public disapproval, FDA is not planning to require labelling of products from cloned animals, keeping already wary consumers in the dark."

Greg Jaffe, director of biotechnology at the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, reckons the cloning industry "must now convince the public why cloning is useful". He said: "Just because the technology is safe, it doesn't mean that as a society there is reason to embrace it."

The livestock industry seems to have acknowledged public wariness of cloned animal products, and Tyson Foods Inc, the US's largest meat producer, said yesterday "it has no immediate plans to buy cloned livestock". ®

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