FDA: Meat of Cloned Animals Safe to Eat
Agency Says Milk and Meat From Clones Pose No Risks to Humans
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 15, 2008 -- The FDA concluded Tuesday that meat and milk from cloned
animals is safe for human consumption, clearing the way for clones to enter the
U.S. food supply.
The much-anticipated decision was the culmination of years of review by the
agency, which has been investigating whether cloning puts animals at risk of
genetic changes that could be dangerous if consumed by humans.
"These products are no different than foods from traditionally bred
animals," says Bruce I. Knight, Under Secretary for marketing and
regulatory programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The decision does not necessarily mean that milk and meat from cloned
animals is likely to arrive on grocery store shelves. Producers instead are
interested in using cloning techniques to replicate prize breeding stock that
could then be used to sire cattle for beef or milk.
In fact, the U.S. Department of
Agriculture has asked producers to continue a voluntary moratorium on cloned
animal products until the government and industry work out a transition
The cloning process for cattle is nearly identical to human embryo cloning
techniques, which continue to face staunch debate in Washington and around the
In the process, known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, technicians remove
an egg cell's DNA and replace it with DNA from a body cell of a donor. The
resulting cell can then be chemically programmed to divide, and if it survives,
it gives rise to an exact genetic copy of the body cell donor animal.
Knight said the U.S. government would now move to implement a "smooth
and seamless transition into the marketplace for these products."
Meat, dairy, and biotech companies had pushed hard for the conclusion they
The decision means that meat or milk from the offspring of cloned animals
could reach grocery store shelves within two to three years "at the
earliest," says Karen Batra, a spokeswoman for the National Cattlemen's
Beef Association, an industry group.
In Europe, a food safety agency of the European Union has also weighed in on
the issue of cloned animals for food. According to the Associated Press, the
European Food Safety Authority issued a preliminary report that said that milk
and meat from cloned animals is probably safe for human consumption.