WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration late last week opened a 90-day comment period about whether meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring can be entered into the nation's food supply after FDA scientists issued a report indicating such products are safe for consumption.
Opposition from several groups is expected.
The federal scientists, having studied several thousand cattle over a period of years, concluded that products derived from cloned cattle, pigs and goats, and their offspring, are safe for consumption and require no special labeling in the marketplace.
“All of the studies indicate that the composition of meat and milk from clones is within the compositional ranges of meat and milk consumed in the U.S.,” two FDA scientists wrote in a report published in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of Theriogenology, which focuses on animal reproduction.
Ever since Dolly, the famous cloned sheep, was born in 1997, some producers have successfully cloned animals. But factions, including those who have economic and/or safety concerns and some religious groups, have voiced strong opposition to cloning.
In response to opposition a few years ago, the FDA asked producers to voluntarily keep products from cloned animals and their offspring off the market. In light of the new research, however, such products may soon be headed for supermarkets and restaurants. Additional objections are expected from consumers who disagree with the scientists' conclusion that no special labeling is needed for the products.
The cloning process involves replacing an egg's nucleus with DNA from a prized, or high-producing animal. A small electric shock administered to the egg then induces it to grow into a replication of the animal.
Animal scientists see the process as a natural progression from procedures already commonly used in animal reproduction techniques.