May 20, 2008

California considering clone labeling bill this week

A California bill requiring labeling of cloned animal food products comes up for hearing this week.  SB 1121 was introduced last March.  It requires each seller of a cloned animal to inform the buyer that the animal is a clone and requires labeling of food products that contain any product from a cloned animal or its progeny. 

From the Legislative Counsel's Digest:

SB 1121, as introduced, Migden. Food labeling: cloned animals.
Existing law provides that food is misbranded if, among other things, it does not bear a label containing specified information. Under existing law, a violation of the provisions relating to the labeling of food products is a crime. This bill would require a every livestock producer, as defined, who sells or transfers any cloned animal or its progeny to disclose to the buyer or transferee that the animal is cloned or is the progeny of a cloned animal, as specified. It would also require food for human consumption that contains any product from a cloned animal or its progeny to be labeled to indicate that the food includes the product of a cloned animal or its progeny, as specified. By creating a new crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

May 20, 2008 in Cloning, Labeling | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 18, 2008

FDA Report finds consumers don't want clones

From American Anti-Vivisection Society, Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Farm Sanctuary, Food & Water Watch, and Humane Society of the United States:

March 18th, 2008 — A report commissioned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shows that the public does not want food from cloned animals, nor would they feed milk or meat from cloned animals to their children, it was revealed today.   The report, “Focus Groups on the Public’s Perception on the Health Risk Associated with Products from Animal Clones”, made available under the Freedom of Information Act, was written by the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.  Despite the results of this focus group report and other reputable surveys showing high consumer concerns and an unwillingness to buy food from cloned animals, in January the FDA issued its risk assessment approving food from cloned animals and their offspring for human consumption without requiring labeling.

The FDA focus group survey, conducted in 2005, states that “more than half of the participants across the board said that they would not want to eat food derived from clones.”  This figure is supported by public opinion polls.

Significantly, the FDA survey found that all those “participants who have children said that they would not give such food to their children.”  The opinion survey also found:

  • Each focus group had serious health concerns; “many participants said that they would like to know the test results of eating products from animal clones on human health.”  Participants in all focus groups expressed concerns with the long-term effects of eating food from animal clones and their progeny.  The report states that those interviewed were “wary of what would happen in 10 to 20 years.”
  • In addition, some participants were concerned “about negative mutations to the genetic makeup of the progeny of cloned animals”, and did not consider the offspring of clones normal.  They “described the progeny of an animal clone as a ‘half clone’ or ‘even worse than a clone’”.
  • The majority of participants in focus groups said more than once that “they would like to know what specific benefits cloning would offer them, as many did not see any.”
  • Participants in each focus group had ethical concerns as well: “They used the term ‘playing God,’ and considered cloning to be an intrusion of nature that ‘cannot bring anything good’”.  Many participants said that “They did not see the purpose of cloning farm animals; they were concerned that cloning farm animals is just a step in science that will lead to cloning humans in the future.” A few interviewed “speculated that food products from animal clones might already be on the market and they do not even know about it.”
  • The FDA knew that some participants “expect food products from cloned animals and their progeny to be labeled as such.”  This assumption by some members may have informed the focus groups’ discussion that food from clones would be identifiable, but no such requirement has been proposed by the FDA or other regulatory agencies.

“Surveys have repeatedly shown that consumers don’t want food from cloned animals,” said Rebecca Spector of the Center for Food Safety.  “This just-released information shows that FDA knew from their own two-year-old study that the public did not want food from clones, and wanted labels on milk or meat from clones so that they could avoid them.  We currently have an FDA that that no longer acts in the public interest.  In fact, they show a complete disregard for public opinion.”

“It’s clear that consumers are wary of cloning,” said Julie Janovsky, director of campaigns at Farm Sanctuary. “And there’s no doubt that animals suffer as a result of this process. These are ample reasons alone to reject cloned products, both in the marketplace and on the farm.”

“The FDA's decision to allow meat and milk from clones to reach consumers without any labeling is even more offensive in light of this evidence that the agency documented consumer concern about this technology,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.  “This reaffirms that FDA is more concerned with pleasing the biotechnology industry than in addressing the safety and ethical concerns consumers have about cloning.”

“Part of the FDA's mission is to protect animal health; if the public were aware of how much animal suffering is involved in the cloning process, they'd be horrified,” said Tracie Letterman, Executive Director of American Anti-Vivisection Society.  “The FDA didn't even mention animal health in these focus groups, and they are pushing these products on a public that clearly doesn't want it.  It doesn't take much to figure out whose interests they're serving.”

Recent opinion polls show the majority of Americans do not want milk or meat from cloned animals in their food.  A December 2006 poll by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found that nearly two-thirds of U.S. consumers were uncomfortable with animal cloning.  A national survey conducted this year by Consumers Union found that 89 percent of Americans want to see cloned foods labeled, while 69 percent said that they have concerns about cloned meat and dairy products in the food supply.  A recent Gallup Poll reported that more than 60 percent of Americans believe that it is immoral to clone animals, while the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found that a similar percentage say that, despite FDA approval, they won’t buy milk from cloned animals.

In addition, in the wake of the of the FDA’s risk assessment clearing clones for use as food, a regulatory vacuum now exists.  To fill that void, a number of federal and state bills have been introduced which require that clear and prominent labeling be used on products made from clones and their offspring.  At the federal level, the Mikulski Specter Amendment (HR 4855) to the farm bill requires comprehensive testing on the potential long-term health effects of meat and milk from clones and their offspring on humans; HR 992 calls for labeling cloned food products and by-products, and the establishment of a record-keeping audit system for tracking clones; and S 414 requires labels for all cloned food products as well as a record-keeping audit system.  In addition, more than a dozen bills being introduced in California, Kentucky, New York, Maryland, New Jersey , North Carolina, Michigan, Massachusetts, Missouri, Tennessee, and Washington are also calling for labeling on food from cloned animals, and in some cases their offspring.

March 18, 2008 in Cloning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 12, 2008

California reintroduces clone labeling bill

This news is not brand new. On January 24, 2008,California Senator Barbara Migden introduced Senate Bill 1121, which would require cloned animals to be identified and food products to be labeled:

This bill would require a every livestock producer, as defined, who sells or transfers any cloned animal or its progeny to disclose to the buyer or transferee that the animal is cloned or is the progeny of a cloned animal, as specified. It would also require food for human consumption that contains any product from a cloned animal or its progeny to be labeled to indicate that the food includes the product of a cloned animal or its progeny, as specified. By creating a new crime, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

Read the whole of SB 1121 on the Center for Food Safety website.

February 12, 2008 in Cloning, Labeling, Legislation | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 15, 2008

Center for Food Safety says FDA research is "wishful thinking"; calls for peer-reviewed trials of cloning technology

The Center for Food Safety issued the following statement about the FDA's cloning decision.  (The statement below is now available on the CFS website):

FDA OPENS ‘PANDORA’S BOX’ BY APPROVING FOOD FROM CLONES FOR SALE

Center for Food Safety Blasts Decision Based on “Wishful Thinking”; Calls for Peer-Reviewed Trials for Untested Technology that Could Pose Health Risks to Consumers, Economic Risks to US Agriculture

Washington, DC, January 15, 2008, — Today, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) condemned the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) irresponsible determination that milk and meat from cloned animals are safe for sale to the public.  In addition, the FDA is requiring no tracking system for clones or labeling of products produced from clones or their offspring.  This action comes at a time when the U.S. Senate has voted twice to delay FDA’s decision on cloned animals until additional safety and economic studies can be completed by the National Academy of Sciences and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The FDA’s bullheaded action today disregards the will of the public and the Senate – and opens a literal Pandora’s Box,” said Andrew Kimbrell, CFS Executive Director. “FDA based their decision on an incomplete and flawed review that relies on studies supplied by cloning companies that want to force cloning technology on American consumers.  FDA’s action has placed the interests of a handful of biotech firms above those of the public they are charged with protecting.

With FDA’s release of their controversial risk assessment today, CFS joins dozens of other food industry, consumer, and animal welfare groups, as well as federal lawmakers in calling for swift action on the part of Congress to pass the 2007 Farm Bill containing provisions delaying FDA’s release of clones into the food supply. The Farm Bill currently contains an amendment, advanced by Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD.) and co-sponsored by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), requiring a rigorous and careful review of the human health and economic impacts of allowing clones food into America’s food supply.  The Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill by a vote of 79 to 14.

The passage of this bill with the Mikulski-Specter amendment sends a strong message that the FDA has failed the public again by taking an inadequate and half-baked look at the safety of food products from cloned animals and their offspring,” said Joseph Mendelson, CFS Legal Director. “The FDA’s cavalier approach to cloned food and its potential impacts calls for the remedy of a truly rigorous scientific assessment, and Congress has now repeatedly called for such action.”

The Farm Bill amendment addresses the gaps and inadequacies of the FDA’s current risk assessment, and would go into effect before any food products from clones are marketed. The Farm Bill also directs the USDA to examine consumer acceptance of cloned foods and the likely impacts they could have on domestic and international markets. (For more information on this amendment, go to: http://mikulski.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=289130).

Additionally, the FDA is today issuing a guidance document for food producers; It fails to require any special procedures for tracking or handling food products from clones.  It also fails to require labeling of any kind on food products from clones or their offspring, which deprives consumers of their right to know about the origins of their food.

Recently, two cloning companies - Viagen and Trans Ova, proposed the creation of a voluntary cloning registry program.  While they advanced claims that the registry would provide consumer protection and transparency without regulation, clones and their progeny will still be dispersed through the food system without any tracking or labeling. The cloning industry’s proposal is simply another attempt to force cloned milk and meat on consumers and the dairy industry by giving the public phony assurances,” said Mendelson.  “The proposal neither provides new studies on the safety of clones nor protects the consumers’ right to know whether their food or dairy contains products from clones.  Once clones are released into America’s food supply without any traceability requirements, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to recall them.”

Recent opinion polls show the majority of Americans do not want milk or meat from cloned animals in their food.  A December 2006 poll by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found that nearly two-thirds of U.S. consumers were uncomfortable with animal cloning.  A national survey conducted this year by Consumers Union found that 89 percent of Americans want to see cloned foods labeled, while 69 percent said that they have concerns about cloned meat and dairy products in the food supply.  A recent Gallup Poll reported that more than 60 percent of Americans believe that it is immoral to clone animals, while the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found that a similar percentage say that, despite FDA approval, they won’t buy milk from cloned animals.

In its risk assessment of cloned food, the FDA claims to have evaluated extensive peer reviewed safety studies to support its conclusion, yet a recent report issued by CFS, Not Ready for Prime Time, shows the assessment only references three peer-reviewed food safety studies, all of which focus on the narrow issue of milk from cloned cows.  What is even more disturbing is that these studies were partially funded by the same biotech firms that produce clones for profit.  For an executive summary of the Center for Food Safety’s report, please visit http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/pubs/NotReadyForPrimeTime_ExecSummary.pdf.  Visit http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/pubs/FDA_Cloning_RAreview_Report_FINAL.pdf for the full report.

January 15, 2008 in Cloning | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

FDA Says Let Them Eat Clones (but don't tell them)

The FDA released its Cloned Meat documents today.  So begins the official statement:

FDA Issues Documents on the Safety of Food from Animal Clones

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.

Here's the FDA Press Release

January 15, 2008 in Cloning | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 15, 2007

Schwarzenegger vetos clone labeling bill

Over the weekend, California Governeror Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 63 (blogged here, here, and here), which would have required meat or milk from cloned animals to be labeled as such. 

An industry group, Biotechnology Industry Organization, applauded the move:

to a more healthful and high-quality food supply. The biotechnology industry applauds Governor Schwarzenegger for saying "no" to unnecessary and anti-biotechnology labeling requirements that would have been misleading for California consumers and placed California ranchers and livestock producers at a competitive disadvantage.

More importantly, by vetoing Senate Bill 63, Governor Schwarzenegger recognized the vast scientific research that has concluded that meat and milk products from animal clones and their offspring are as safe as conventionally-derived foods and therefore do not require any additional labeling, which can potentially mislead consumers.

October 15, 2007 in Cloning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 08, 2007

UK scientists plan to create human-cow embryos

This is not exactly food, but the technology is pretty much the same as the technology for cloning animals that would be used for food.  The following is from a BBC News article by Fergus Walsh:

UK scientists have applied for permission to create embryos by fusing human DNA with cow eggs. . . .The hybrid human-bovine embryos would be used for stem cell research and would not be allowed to develop for more than a few days.

Stem cells are the body's master cells and five-day-old embryos are packed with them - each with the potential to turn into any tissue in the body.

It is this ability which scientists want to harness to treat diseases such as Parkinson's Disease, strokes and Alzheimer's Disease.

To do that, they say they need to have access to thousands of embryos for research.

Short supply

The problem is that human eggs for research are in short supply and to obtain them women have to undergo surgery.

That is why scientists want to use cows' eggs as a substitute.

They would insert human DNA into a cow's egg which has had its genetic material removed, and then create an embryo by the same technique that produced Dolly the Sheep.

The resulting embryo would be 99.9% human; the only bovine element would be DNA outside the nucleus of the cell.

Read the rest of the article

Maybe the  George the singing cow Ben and Jerry'sisn't so far off the mark. 

Other singing cows: PETA anti-leather commercial

October 8, 2007 in Biotech, Cloning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 17, 2007

California Legislature Passes Clone Labeling Measure

The California bill requiring labeling of meat and milk from cloned animals (blogged here and here) has passed the California legislature.  Excerpts here are from the Center for Food Safety news release:

Washington, D.C., September 14, 2007 - The Center for Food Safety (CFS) today applauded the California legislature for passing the country's first law requiring labels on meat or dairy products produced from animal clones or their offspring.

A CFS report released in February revealed that there is scant scientific evidence for the safety of food from clones, and that the technology is inherently cruel to animals.

Nonetheless, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it expects to approve the marketing of unlabeled food from clones before the end of this year. . . .

The California bill, SB 63, was introduced by Senator Carol Migden, and requires clear, prominent labeling indicating that food derives from an animal clone or its progeny on any such food for human consumption.  SB 63 passed the state House on Monday and the Senate on Wednesday.  It now goes to Governor Schwarzeneggar who has until October 15 to sign or veto the bill.

September 17, 2007 in Cloning, Labeling | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 03, 2007

Center for Food Safety and 130,000 Consumers: No to Clones

The Center for Food Safety is submitting comments on the cloning issue today.  This is from their press release:

A coalition of consumer, environmental, and animal welfare organizations today announced the submission of more than 130,000 comments to the Food and Drug Administration from consumers who oppose the Agency’s proposed plan to introduce food from cloned animals into the U.S. food supply.

The Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Food and Water Watch, The Humane Society of the United States, the American Anti-Vivisection Society, the Consumer Federation of America and the Organic Consumers Association joined together to send a strong, unified message to the FDA that the public opposes the introduction of cloned animals in food. Today is the last day of a public comment period that began in January in response to FDA’s proposal to allow products from cloned animals into the food supply unlabeled. Members of the meat and dairy industries and several nonprofit organizations urged the Agency to take time to consider comments from the widest possible sample of Americans in consideration of the untested nature of cloning technology.

Recent opinion polls show the majority of the American public does not want milk or meat from cloned animals in their food.  A December 2006 poll by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found that nearly two-thirds of U.S consumers were uncomfortable with animal cloning. The comments submitted today strongly reinforce this nationally held sentiment.

May 3, 2007 in Cloning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Comment Period on Cloned Meat Ends Today

The public comment period on the FDA's draft risk analysis on meat and milk from cloned animals closes today.  The FDA released its Draft Risk Analysis last December (blogged here), and last month extended the comment period to May 3 (today).

May 3, 2007 in Cloning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 19, 2007

George the Cow Sings the Cloning Song

The Ben and Jerry's website features a musical contribution to the animal cloning debate. Click here to hear George the Cow sing The Cloning Song.

April 19, 2007 in Cloning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 18, 2007

Green Party Backs Clone Label Bill

Green Party press release:

Green Party [of California] environmental specialists [Monday] voiced support for legislation to mandate clear labels on any food derived from a cloned animal or its offspring, and said the bill is in the "public interest" and necessary to protect consumers from "potentially dangerous" food products.

April 18, 2007 in Cloning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cloned genetically engineered cows to produce Insulin in Argentina

Argentina already allows clones.  Argentine scientists say they have produced four genetically modified cloned calves that can produce human insulin in their milk.  This will provide a cheaper source of insulin to treat type-1 diabetics.

From checkbiotech.org:

To produce pharmaceutical products from cow's milk, scientists insert the human gene of interest into an embryo before implanting it into a surrogate mother cow. In this case they used a gene for insulin.

Once milk is obtained from the genetically modified cow, it will be purified and refined to extract the insulin. Similar techniques have already been used to produce human proteins in goats and cows.

Argentina, the world's third-biggest beef exporter, is famous for its sweeping Pampas grazing lands and it is one of a handful of countries to have cloned livestock.

April 18, 2007 in Biotech, Cloning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 13, 2007

California senate committee approves clone labeling measure

The California Senate Health Committee has approved SB63 (introduced by Carole Migden and blogged here) by a 6-4 vote with Democrats supporting the legislation and Republicans opposing it.

Migden isn't alone in addressing the issue. Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, D-Redwood City, has a similar bill in the lower house that is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Health committee Tuesday.

State lawmakers in Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana and Washington are contemplating similar legislation, and separate bills also have been introduced in both houses of Congress

SF Chronicle article

April 13, 2007 in Cloning, Labeling | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 12, 2007

California State Sen. Migden Unveils Legislation Requiring Labeling of Cloned Food Products

Press release: "Calling for protection of “consumers’ right to know”, State Senator Carole Migden today unveiled legislation [SB 63] which would require that milk and meat products from cloned animals that are intended for human consumption be clearly labeled...“California consumers want to know what they’re eating and what we’re feeding our children,” said Migden. “People have the right to know if food is organic, if it contains pesticides or growth-promoting hormones, or if it’s from cloned or natural-bred animals. Consumers certainly don’t want to wrestle with moral issues like cloning while they’re doing the family grocery shopping."

April 12, 2007 in Cloning | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack