Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Will Your Milk Come From Betsy or Betsy's Clone?

How will you know and will you be given a choice?

excerpt from:
FDA Gives Blessing To Food From Cloned Animals
By Missy Ryan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government ruled on Tuesday that meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring is as safe as other food, but pressed firms that produce clones to hold off on bringing them into the food supply.

"Extensive evaluation of the available data has not identified any subtle hazards that might indicate food consumption risks in healthy clones of cattle, swine or goats," the Food and Drug Administration said in a final risk assessment that confirmed preliminary findings from 2006.

The FDA said it did not have enough information to make an assertion about cloned sheep.

The ruling was the latest twist after years of debate over the reproductive technology, which advocates say will provide consumers with top-quality food by replicating prized animals that can breed highly productive offspring.

The cloning industry, made up so far of only a handful of firms, expects that it will be the offspring of cloned animals, not the costly clones themselves, that would eventually provide meat or milk to U.S. consumers.

There are currently about 570 cloned animals in the United States, but the livestock industry has so far followed a voluntary ban on marketing food from the animals.

Yet even as the FDA unveiled its final assessment, the Agriculture Department asked the cloning industry to extend that ban during a "transition" period.

Every day thousands of consumers purchase products in the supermarket without knowing the product's country of origin or how the food was produced or inspected. So why should the consumer expect that cloned meat and milk will be handled much differently.

How sure are you that you will be given any choice about deciding whether to consume products from cloned animals?

A few days ago CNN's Brian Todd reported on this story.

According to an article by Brandon Keim for the Wired Blog Network:

People tend to feel less repulsed at eating the offspring, so it's clone descendants that we'll eat -- though we probably won't know for sure. The FDA says clone-derived products don't need to be labeled.

"There's no way for the consumer to know whether they're getting cloned meat or their offspring," said Will Rostov, a senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety, a agricultural advocacy group.

According to Rostov, the FDA should have treated cloned animals as a new animal drug, thus requiring a higher level of scrutiny and testing. "Anything that's changed the structure of the cell is a new animal drug. Cloning changes that structure. We filed a petition, but the FDA said they were using their discretion, that all they needed to do was some sort of risk assessment." The risk assessment, said Rostov, is based largely on conflicted industry data.

We still know so very little about the health impact of the addition of growth hormones and antibiotics to the meat supply, do you want to add cloned meat and milk to the equation?

Related Articles:

FDA: Don't Ask, Don't Tell on Cloned Meat

Report on the use of Growth Hormones in Meat Production

Sustainable Table: Artificial Hormones

70 Percent of All Antibiotics Given to Healthy Livestock
Excessive use of antibiotics by meat producers, 8 times more than in human medicine, contributes to alarming increase in antibiotic resistance

Related posts:

The Real Reasons We're Worried About Food & Product Safety

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