January 6, 2007
Cloned Meat is All the Same (and Safe)
The FDA has prepared a Draft Risk Assessment and a Proposed Risk Management Plan regarding milk and meat from cloned animals. The official "notice" of these documents will become part of the Federal Register on January 2. (Link to FDA Press Release)
The draft risk assessment does two things: it examines the dangers of cloning to the animals themselves, and evaluates the suitability of food from such animals. It concludes that milk and meat from cloned animals should be safe to eat.
Cloning doesn't always work to produce a live animal, but when it does and the animal survives to adolescence, the cloned animals are just as healthy as sexually created animals. The draft risk assessment notes that cloned animals are expensive and would probably be used for breeding purposes. Thus the "cloned" meat would be meat from the offspring of cloned animals, rather than the cloned animals themselves.
While many consumers are opposed to cloned meat for a variety of reasons, the FDA is only authorized to focus on food safety, so the "science-based" approval of cloned meat is only based on the conclusion that the food is safe to eat. Similarly, because the food is virtually identical to non-cloned meat, the FDA apparently is not going to require that cloned meat be labeled specially. Here are three of the FAQs from the FDA website:
Is FDA considering the ethics of animal cloning?
FDA recognizes that animal cloning raises ethical issues that are important to some members of the public. The agency’s jurisdiction, however, is limited to health and safety issues, and does not extend to ethical issues related to animal cloning. We are also aware that ethical concerns can become intertwined with, and amplify concerns about food safety. We plan to participate in discussions on the ethical issues posed by animal cloning to provide our scientific expertise.
Would food from clones be labeled?
No. FDA is not recommending any additional measures relating to food derived from adult clones and their offspring, including labeling. For instance, FDA scientists found that the milk components from dairy clones were of the same type and present in the same amounts as milk sold every day. Therefore there is no science-based reason to use labels to distinguish between milk derived from clones and that from conventional animals.
Is animal cloning allowed in other countries? Can food products from these animals be sold for human consumption in other countries?
Scientists in many other countries are using cloning technology. Dolly the sheep was from Scotland. There are a number of livestock clones in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea, and other animals have been cloned in other countries (e.g., horses in Italy). It is our understanding, however, that no country has yet allowed food from animal clones in their food supplies.
Posted by Donna M. Byrne, William Mitchell College of Law
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