Q: The FDA recently announced cloned animals are safe to eat. What’s the basis for this claim?
A: It might be hard to believe, but none of the more than 700 studies reviewed by the FDA revealed any reason to be concerned with milk and meat from healthy cloned cows, pigs, and goats -- or from their offspring. And the FDA isn’t the first to make this claim: Both the National Academy of Science and the European Food Safety Authority came to similar conclusions.
The FDA also found the chemical composition of food products from cloned animals is virtually identical to that of conventionally bred animals. But there might be other reasons to be cautious. Cloned animals would be used primarily as breeders, not as food, but cloning is expensive and ultimately inefficient: Many clones die during gestation or shortly after birth; many others are born deformed.
These problems -- combined with widespread ethical qualms -- led the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ask farmers to delay marketing cloned food products until consumers complete "a process of acceptance." That means you probably won’t be throwing burgers made from cloned animals on the grill this summer.
Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD, WebMD Nutrition Expert