BIO Says, Proposed ‘Cloned Food Labeling Act’ Will Mislead Consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 26, 2007) –Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) President and CEO Jim Greenwood today responded to Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D-Md.) introduction of the Cloned Food Labeling Act saying, “Labels that are misleading to consumers are unlawful. To require the labeling of foods that are indistinguishable from foods produced through traditional methods – as Sen. Mikulski’s proposal does – would mislead consumers by falsely implying differences where none exist. It also risks diverting attention from important safety and nutritional information.”

The laws and regulations administered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require food labels to be truthful and not misleading. Under these laws and regulations, changes to foods require labeling only if the product has been significantly changed nutritionally or if there were changes in other health-related characteristics of the food. The FDA has found that milk and meat products from cloned livestock and their offspring is equivalent to that from conventionally bred animals.

Greenwood continued, “Labeling standards are science-based in order to give consumers meaningful information about the foods that they buy and eat. Today, there are no known food products from cloned animals or their offspring in the marketplace. The biotechnology industry has abided by a request from the FDA to withhold sales of food products from animal clones and their offspring in the market. The likelihood that consumers will eat products from an animal clone is small; animal clones will be primarily used as breeding stock in order to improve the health and quality of animals used for food production. Rather, meat and milk products in the marketplace will come from the offspring of cloned animals. These offspring would be bred through conventional breeding techniques and would not themselves be clones.”

Consumer research shows that six out of 10 American consumers would purchase or consider purchasing meat and milk from animal clones and their offspring once FDA has affirmed safety. Surveys have shown that when provided with accurate information about the technology, consumers are confident in the technology, its benefits, and food safety. Animal cloning is an assisted reproductive technology that helps farmers and ranchers meet consumer demand for high-quality and safe food that is available in a reliable and consistent manner. “Providing the facts and the science, not the science fiction, to consumers is important,” Greenwood concluded.

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.