"We will be submitting those data to the FDA probably toward the end of the summer," Steinerman says. "The company wants to be sure that any prospective concerns or issues are addressed before they become controversial. We are not doing this study because there was any concern, but because we want to minimize any risk perceptions and have the science supporting any introduction of this into the food chain."
Controversial human cloning researcher Panos Zavos, PhD, tells WebMD that fears about milk from cloned cows are unfounded. "It's a joke," he says. "It's like telling me that an identical twin, which is a clone, has a biological disease of some sort that can be transferred to another being."
But citing the sudden death of a cloned cow at the University of Tennessee earlier this month, University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Art Caplan, PhD, tells WebMD, "There are all kinds of signals that there are real biological problems with the health of clones."
"That's what we are up against," Says Gillespie. "Everybody is ready to believe that there was something [wrong with the clone]. I haven't seen anything from the University of Tennessee to judge that the animal died from anything other than some natural cause."
Meanwhile, companies are also interested in genetically modified clones, once they work out all the kinks with "simple" cloned animals.
For example, Infigen says that it is experimenting with genetically modified cattle to help produce useful pharmaceutical proteins and to make a blood clotting factor that the American Red Cross hopes to commercialize. It is also cloning genetically modified pigs to possibly use their organs as replacement organs in humans.
"That's where we'll no doubt spend a lot of time, effort, and money -- getting those approved," Gillespie says.