F.D.A. declares food from cloned animals is safe

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) has declared food from cloned animals and their progeny is safe to consume, according to The New York Times. The decision removes the last government hurdle before meat and milk derived from clones of animals may be sold for public consumption.

This decision also comes more than four years after the agency tentatively declared food from cloned animals was safe. In its report, The New York Times said F.D.A. declared further studies confirmed its earlier decision.

"Following extensive review, the risk assessment did not identify any unique risks for human food from cattle, swine or goat clones, and concluded that there is sufficient information to determine that food from cattle, swine and goat clones is as safe to eat as that from their more conventionally-bred counterparts," the agency said in a statement.

The F.D.A. ruling was a major victory for cloning companies, which hope to use the cloned animals primarily for breeding purposes, selling copies of prize dairy cows, steers and hogs.

But not everyone is happy with this decision and louder outcries against this decision may be expected. Some consumer groups and members of Congress have fought the decision, arguing there is not enough science to support such a decision.

Early indications from leading meat processors show there won’t be a stampede in companies adopting this technology.

"Tyson currently has no plans to purchase cloned livestock, especially since it will likely be a long time before such animals would even for available for market," said Gary Mickelson, spokesman for Tyson Foods, Inc., Springdale, Ark. "Whatever measures we ultimately take will be guided by government regulations and the desires of our customers and consumers."

Cargill Meat Solutions, Wichita, Kas., said it "is continuing to evaluate this issue."

Smithfield Foods, Smithfield, Va., previously announced late last year it is not planning to produce meat products from cloned animals.

"The science involved in cloning animals is relatively new," the company said. "As thoughtful leaders in our industry, we will continue to monitor this technology. Throughout our long history we have been very diligent and measured in making decisions that affect our customers and our reputation. Our focus remains on the development and improvement of our meat products through careful selective breeding and genetic research."

The American Meat Institute, Washington, said it agrees with the conclusions reached in late 2006 by the F.D.A. and various scientific organizations like the National Academy of Sciences that meat products derived from cloned animals are safe for human consumption, said A.M.I. Foundation president James H. Hodges.

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