Meat, milk from cloned animals OK'd
FDA study says it needs no labels
By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times - December 24, 2006
LOS ANGELES -- A long-awaited study by US scientists has concluded that meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring are safe to eat and drink and should be allowed to enter the food supply without any special labeling.
"All of the studies indicate that the composition of meat and milk from clones is within the compositional ranges of meat and milk consumed in the US," the FDA scientists concluded in a report published in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Theriogenology, which focuses on animal reproduction.
The study, however, prompted a sharp reaction from food safety advocates.
The FDA "has been trying to foist this bad science on us for several years," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Food Safety in Washington. "When there is so much concern among so many Americans, this is really a rush to judgment."
Many ranchers and dairy producers have already cloned animals for meat and milk production, but a voluntary moratorium initiated about five years ago by the FDA has largely kept them and their offspring out of grocery stores and restaurants.
However, ranchers say there is no doubt that some of the animals taken to slaughterhouses in the past couple of years have been fathered by clones.
"There's been lots and lots of them that went into the food chain," said Larry Coleman, who raises limousin cattle in Charlo, Mont., and has made five clones of his prize bull, named First Down. He estimated that at least 10 of their offspring have wound up on dinner tables.
Since Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1996, agricultural scientists have imagined a time when they could dispense with the uncertainties of conventional breeding and make exact copies of their best animals. Cows were cloned in 1998 and pigs followed in 2000.
Consumers greeted the news with a combination of amazement and revulsion.