Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Meat and Milk from Cloned Animals Moves Closer to Reality as FDA Moves to Clear it for Sale

It looks like if the government and industry have their way that meat from cloned animals will not be far off. We’ll wait to see some more reaction from all sides.


Group blasts FDA plan to allow food from clones

By Christopher Doering

Mar 21, 2007 — WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Findings of a U.S. government study that would help pave the way for the sale of milk and meat from cloned animals was "flawed" and failed to adequately check for possible side-effects, a consumer group said on Wednesday.

The Center for Food Safety's report said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's risk assessment of food from cloned animals used data that was "selectively reported to fit predetermined conclusions" and relied heavily on unpublished data from two cloning companies.

The consumer group urged FDA to ban food or feed from cloned animals until the government conducts more safety testing on possible side-effects and addresses concerns over animal cruelty and ethical issues tied to the technology.

"I think the process was heavily influenced by industry … and it was unnecessarily rushed," said Charles Margulis, who wrote the report. FDA "needs to go back to the drawing board and bring a lot more stakeholders in the process."

The December draft ruling by FDA would allow the sale, for the first time, of food made from cloned cattle, pigs and goats. Cloning animals involves taking the nuclei of cells from adults and fusing them into egg cells that are implanted into a surrogate mother.

At present, these products cannot be sold, and the ban remains in place until a final ruling is issued. FDA's proposed draft is currently open to public comment.

An FDA spokeswoman said the agency has received the Center for Food Safety's document and is reviewing it, but that she can not comment any further.

Advocates of livestock cloning say it will improve the quality of steaks and dairy products by propagating disease-resistant animals who can produce lean and tender meat or make more milk.

Barb Glenn, a spokeswoman for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, said additional studies released on cloning since December support the conclusion that milk and meat products from these animals are safe. She added that FDA's risk assessment was subjected to peer review by outside experts and an editorial board of a scientific journal.

FDA's report "is a very exhaustive and intensive analysis of all the world's available data, hundreds of scientific studies independently analyzed by the agency and all available transparently to the public," said Glenn.

The Center for Food Safety said in its report that FDA was unable to find the necessary studies needed to look at the safety of meat and milk produced from clones. It said FDA omitted or downplayed findings that contradicted its assumption from other studies it reviewed, including whether defective clones can be identified and removed from the food supply.

"FDA's review finds so little data, and so many inconsistencies in the studies cited, that any safety conclusions are based more on faith than science," the report from the Center for Food Safety said.

Dean Foods Co., the largest U.S. dairy processor and distributor, said last month it will not sell milk from animals that have been cloned even if it were allowed, because of ongoing consumer concerns .

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