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FDA: Meat of Cloned Animals Safe to Eat

Agency Says Milk and Meat From Clones Pose No Risks to Humans

Watchdogs Split

The FDA's decision split consumer groups, which have long expressed concerns about whether the offspring of cloned animals are safe.

Gregory Jaffe, biotechnology director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in a statement that the government had "satisfactorily answered the safety question."

"While the safety of any food cannot be proven with absolute certainty, consumers should have confidence that meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring will be safe," Jaffe said in a statement.

But Joseph Mendelson, legal director of the consumer watchdog group Center for Food Safety, suggested the FDA had rushed to judgment. "We know the process causes a number of genetic defects in clones," he tells WebMD.

"They're saying it's just too hard to figure out the [effects] in offspring of clones so we're not going to talk about that," he says.

Labeling Controversy

Mendelson says his group and others would now shift part of their focus to requiring producers to label meat and milk from cloned parents. "Labeling is going to be a big fight," he says.

Batra, the cattlemen's association spokeswoman, says her industry would oppose labels drawing a distinction between traditional meat and meat from cloned sources.

"The science says there is no difference between the two, and it's perfectly safe, and it doesn't need to be labeled," she says.

Stephen Sundlof, the director of the FDA's Center of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, says the agency did not intend to label cloned products on grocery store shelves. "The FDA does not require labeling if there are no food safety issues."

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