Topic: Food From Cloned Animals Would Be Safe, EU Group Says
Ahriman in the food chain
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By John Lauerman
Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Meat and milk from animals bred by cloning would be safe to eat, European Union officials said in a report that follows similar findings in the U.S. and may bring such foods closer to market.
No differences in nutritional value have been seen between products from cloned animals and those bred conventionally, the European Food Safety Authority said today in a draft opinion published on its Web site. The agency will take comments on the opinion through Feb. 25.
Cloned food has been controversial. A U.S. government proposal to allow sale of such products drew about 30,500 comments from the public, prompting calls from lawmakers for more study. The EU food safety officials said studies of nutrition, toxicity, allergic reactions and environmental effects have turned up no cause for concern.
As long as unhealthy clones would be detected before reaching the market, ``the currently available data indicate that food products from clones of cattle and pigs and their progeny are as safe as food products of livestock derived by conventional breeding,'' according to the draft opinion that was requested last year by the European Commission.
While death and disease rates of clones were ``significantly higher'' than for conventionally bred animals, EU regulators said in the draft that they expect the proportion of unhealthy clones ``to decrease as the technology improves.''
A final report from the food safety group is expected in May. EU ministers are expected to make a decision on the sale of cloned food products later this year, and all member countries will be bound by the rules.
FDA on Cloned Food
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a similar draft assessment of cloned foods in Dec. 2006 that called cloned food products safe. The FDA has been expected to issue a final rule adopting those findings as soon as this month, although lawmakers have urged the agency to delay action for more study.
ViaGen Inc., an animal-cloning company based in Austin, Texas, said the FDA should complete its risk assessment and lift a voluntary moratorium that has kept cloned foods off the U.S. market.
``The international scientific consensus is clear,'' ViaGen president Mark Walton said in a statement today. ``Food from these animals and their offspring is as safe to eat as any other food.''
Farmers have traditionally bred animals by pairing the sperm of males and the eggs of females that have selected, desirable traits. With cloning, breeders can create copies of a single animal, reducing the risk that some favorable features, such as disease resistance, won't be inherited.
Dolly the Sheep
Animal cloning began in 1997, when U.K. scientists created Dolly the sheep from a cell in a test tube. There are now 650 live cloned animals in the U.S., most of them produced by ViaGen and Sioux Center, Iowa-based Trans Ova. The companies want to make clones that farmers will prefer for size and strength, and consumers for taste.
Industry and consumer groups have opposed cloned food products, saying that not enough is known about their safety for human consumption and the environment. The International Dairy Foods Association called for the FDA to listen to continue studying cloned foods before backing their sale.
``Nothing is more important to milk processors than the trust people have in milk and milk products,'' said Connie Tipton, chief executive officer of the association, in a statement today. ``That is why we urge the FDA to listen to the more than 30,000 comments the agency has received over the last year and take the time to respond to their comments and concerns before allowing milk from cloned cows into the food supply.''
To contact the reporter on this story: John Lauerman in Boston at email@example.com .
Last Updated: January 11, 2008 18:54 EST