Is it safe to use clones in the food supply?
After analyzing more than 400 scientific studies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Academy of Science (NAS) both separately concluded that meat and milk products from animal clones and their offspring are as safe as foods from conventionally bred animals. The NAS studies also concluded that consumers would actually receive better food from cloning technology because animal clones have “increased genetic merit for increased food production, disease resistance and reproductive efficiency.”
Will we eat animal clones?
Cloning will be used primarily for breeding purposes. These animals are very costly and will represent the most valuable breeding stock; consumers are unlikely to eat an animal clone. They will eat food from animals that are the offspring of clones, which are conventionally bred and are not clones themselves.
Are milk and meat products from animal clones currently in the marketplace?
In January 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a final risk assessment on meat and milk products from animal clones and their offspring which concluded that these products are as safe as conventionally produced food products.
Currently, there are no known meat and milk products from cloned animals and their offspring in the marketplace. Additionally, since most consumers will purchase food products from the offspring of animal clones, with FDA’s safety conclusion now in place, cloned animals produced to date are unlikely to enter the food supply for another three to five years.
Will milk and meat products from animal clones and their offspring be labeled?
The Food and Drug Administration’s labeling policy requires that foods only be labeled if there have been significant changes in its nutritional composition, or if there are any changes in other health-related characteristics, such as allergenicity, toxicity or composition. Based on scientific studies, because the milk and meat products from cloned animals and their progeny are nutritionally equivalent to their conventional counterparts, they would not be required to be labeled.
What if I don’t want to eat food products from animal clones?
Animal clones will primarily be used as breeding stock to improve the health and quality of animals used for food production. So, most consumers will likely never eat a meat or dairy products from an animal clone; rather, meat and milk products in the marketplace will come from the offspring of animal clones. These offspring would be bred through other conventional breeding techniques and not be clones themselves. However, to address consumer, livestock producer and meat and milk processor requests for “clone-free” products, in December 2007, the major animal cloning technology providers introduced an animal clone tracking system that identifies animal clones as they move into the food processing system over time. This tracking system is the only way to help ensure “clone-free” marketing claims.
How will cloned animals benefit consumers?
Cloning can be used to breed livestock with leaner or higher grade meats. This means more nutritious and tasty food for consumers. Also, by breeding the healthiest and strongest animals, the overall health of the whole heard is healthier and stronger. Healthier animals means better food. Because cloning can be used to increase the overall health of the herd, use of this technology could lead to reduced use of antibiotics or other animal drugs. Cloning can also help breed livestock that are immune to diseases like bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) frequently referred to as “mad cow” disease.
How has the public’s perception of cloning changed over the years?
A recent poll conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) shows that over the last two years, consumers have become increasingly likely to buy meat, milk, and eggs from cloned animals. Those saying they would be likely to purchase products from cloned animals increased 12 percentage points, from 34 percent in 2005 to 46 percent today. Learning that animal biotechnology can improve the quality and safety of food (animal health, improved nutrition) had a positive effect on two-thirds of consumers (66 percent).
Will food products from cloned animals and their progeny be regulated for food safety, similar to conventional foods?
More than 10 federal laws ensure public health and safety for all milk and meat products – whether they are from conventional animals or cloned animals and their progeny. These include the federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, Animal Health Protection Act, the Animal Damage Control Act and the National Environmental Protection Act. Overseeing these laws are three federal agencies: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
For More Information
To access more information about animal cloning, please feel free to visit the following resources:
Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) • www.bio.org • 202.962.9200
CloneSafety.org • www.clonesafety.org