Cloned Meat and Milk
WASHINGTON, October, 2006 – The Food and Drug Administration first proposed that it might permit the sale of milk and meat cloned animals in 2003, resulting in a public reaction that has run the gamut from interest to horror. Now the FDA, citing new data, expects to give its stamp of approval by the end of this year. Stephen R. Sundlof, the FDA’s chief of veterinary medicine responsible for the agency’s risk assessment, maintains that “food from cloned animals is as safe as the food we eat every day.” But the FDA has never published the complete scientific studies it says support that claim. Proponents claim that cloning will improve upon the consistency and quality currently available. However, there is significant concern that the public will reject such products. According to the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, a nonpartisam research and education project, surveys show that more than 60 percent of the U.S. population is uncomfortable with the idea of animal cloning for food and milk. Concerns for safety are built on the assertion that genetic changes seen in some clones may alter the very nutritional nature of meat. The FDA itself acknowledges that clone pregnancies result in more miscarriages, deformities and premature deaths than do other technologies. But the agency dismisses this fact, saying the problems aren't unique. The Washington-based Center for Food Safety has filed a petition with the FDA asking that cloned animals be classified as "transgenic animals" - animals that have been engineered by adding specific genes. This means they would be regulated the same way as new pharmaceuticals, under a category called "New Animal Drugs". The petition states, "The available science shows that cloning presents serious food safety risks, animal welfare concerns and unresolved ethical issues that require strict oversight." Consumers aren't the only ones concerned. Dairy companies fear that association with cloning will undermine their carefully-maintained image of wholesomeness. In fact, confidential documents from the International Dairy Foods Association obtained by The Washington Post show that the group has been instrumental in slowing the FDA's approval.