EFSA Opinion Reaffirms Safety of Meat and Milk Derived from Cloning

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (Thursday, July 24, 2008) - The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced today its final scientific opinion that food from cloned cattle and pigs is safe, and there are no implications of animal cloning on the environment.  Key findings of the EFSA Scientific Committee are:

• There is no indication that differences exist in terms of food safety for meat and milk of clones and their progeny compared with those from conventionally bred animals.

• Somatic cell nuclear transfer, or SCNT (the most common technique used to clone animals) results in the production of healthy cattle and pig clones, and healthy offspring that are similar to their conventional counterparts based on parameters such as physiological characteristics, demeanor and clinical status.

• From the data collected, no environmental impact is foreseen.

Jim Greenwood, President and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) issued the following statement in response to the scientific opinion released today by EFSA:

“BIO supports the key safety findings of EFSA’s scientific opinion, which concludes that meat and milk from livestock clones and their offspring are safe, and are no different than foods from livestock produced through conventional breeding.  EFSA’s findings are consistent with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) January 2008 risk assessment on animal cloning, and the worldwide scientific consensus that livestock cloning is safe.

“Consumers benefit from cloning technology because the offspring of clones will produce better meat and milk products. This decision affirms the global scientific agreement that foods from livestock clones and their offspring are completely safe to eat.

“Cloning is a breeding technology that helps farmers and ranchers produce healthier animals.  Animal clones are an exact genetic copy of an existing animal, a ‘twin’ born at a different time.  The offspring of cloned animals are produced through conventional breeding, and their lineage gives them enhanced genetic traits. 

“The primary goal of farmers and ranchers is production of healthy animals and this technology, like many others, advances that goal.  As noted by EFSA and the FDA, there are no unique animal health risks associated with livestock cloning, as compared with other assisted reproductive technologies.  In fact, cloning offers the potential to significantly improve health and well-being of the herd because cloned animals will be used to breed healthier offspring.

“Now is the time to invest in this and other science-based solutions to achieve an improved, sustainable and reliable food supply.  Cloning is just one example of how agricultural biotechnology can provide those solutions to consumers, farmers and food processors and retailers around the world.”

In February 2007, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was asked by the European Commission to provide a scientific opinion on the food safety, animal health, animal welfare and environmental implications of animal clones, obtained through the SCNT technique, of their progeny and of the products obtained from those animals.  The final opinion also follows public consultation on a draft opinion issued earlier this year.  The final opinion is posted online at: www.efsa.europa.eu.

For more information on cloning, visit www.clonesafety.org.

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BIO represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.

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About BIO
BIO is the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. BIOtechNOW is BIO's blog chronicling “innovations transforming our world” and the BIO Newsletter is the organization’s bi-weekly email newsletter. Subscribe to the BIO Newsletter.