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Thursday, 17 January 2008 08:10

FDA approves cloned animals for human food


After studying over 700 studies over a six-year period and with an in-depth analysis never before performed,  the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the use of milk and organ or muscle tissue from cloned animals for food for humans.         

In its Tuesday, January 15, 2008 news report that finalized its conclusions, the FDA concluded on the technique of cloning: its meat and milk  is safe for food.

Besides the FDA in the United States, European scientists also made similar conclusions in a report they issued last week.

Coning is, generally, the process of creating an identical (duplicate) copy of something.

Specifically, it is the process called somatic cell nuclear transfer in which an egg cell is emptied out and the nucleus from a natural cell from the animal to be copied is put inside. At this point, the new cell is subjected to a chemical or electric charge that initiates the growth of the cell and its division, just like it would normally do if it had been fertilized by a sperm.

Dr. Jerome Baker, chief executive officer of the Federation of Animal Science Societies, stated, “This is one of the most rigorous food safety reviews ever conducted.” [Guardian]

Randall Lutter, an official with the FDA, stated at the news conference that announced the FDA’s results, said, “Meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals.” [AFP]

Dr. Stephen Sundlof, the chief of food safety for the FDA, stated, “We found nothing in the food that could potentially be hazardous. The food in every respect is indistinguishable from food from any other animal. It is beyond our imagination to even find a theory that would cause the food to be unsafe.” [AP]

Many animals have been cloned in the past. Tadpoles were first supposedly cloned in 1952, however, the cloning process that was used was not verifiable by other scientists. Eleven years later, the fish species called the carp was supposedly cloned by Chinese scientists. In the modern day technique, in 1996, sheep were cloned; and one year later, the famous “Dolly” the sheep was cloned by Scottish scientists. In the 2000s, rhesus monkeys, cattle, cats, mules, and horses have been cloned.

Many advocates and opponents of cloning for the purpose of food have agreed that the food eaten from the descendants of cloned animals was “unlikely to be dangerous.”

And, cloned animals will most likely never be eaten as food because they are too expensive—upwards of $20,000 per head as compared to about $1,000 for an ordinary steer. Instead of being eaten so they will be used to propagate (breed) other animals. The animals eventually eaten will be the offspring generations of those cloned animals.

These offspring will provide in many cases more desirable foods for humans. Traits such smaller amounts of cholesterol in cows would be one benefit of cloning cattle, as would be beef that is more tender to the taste and larger amounts of milk from each diary cow.

However, opposition to cloning is still apparent especially on moral grounds in the religious community and on health grounds for those not supporting the findings of the FDA.

Andrew Kimbrell, the director of the Center for Food Safety, stated, “The FDA’s bullheaded action today disregards the will of the public and the Sanate—and opens a literal Pandora’s Box.” He went on to say, “FDA based their decision on an incomplete and flawed review that relies on studies supplied by cloning companies that want to force cloning technology on American consumers.” [AFP]

Controversy will no doubt remain over the subject of cloning for the purpose of food for humans. Only time will tell if it is indeed safe and whether or not humans will come to accept the food produced from cloned animals.

Leaders of the cloning industry stated that it would be many years before meat and milk from cloned animals make their presence in stores in the United States.

Many other articles have been published on the topics of cloned animals, the FDA report, and related issues and discussions. Please write these article to better inform yourself on the subject of cloned animals and our food supply.

Some websites of particular interest are:

FDA: “A Risk-Based Approach to Evaluate Animal Clones and Their Progeny – DRAFT”.

Center for Food Safety: “Groups Tell FDA, Keep Cloned Animals Off Our Dinner Plates”.

News-Medical Net: “FDA says meat from cloned animals is safe but not everyone agrees”.

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