Cloned food in question

Congress may soon need to clarify FDA’s year-end finding that could clear the way for food manufacturers to use meat and milk from cloned animals. FDA’s Draft Risk Assessment finds that meat and milk from clones of adult cattle, pigs and goats and their offspring are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals.

The assessment was peer-reviewed by a group of independent scientific experts in cloning and animal health. They agreed with the methods FDA used to evaluate the data and the conclusions set out in the document, according to an agency statement.

Among the groups that could press Congress to weigh in on the issue is the Center for Food Safety, a consumer organization. In December, the group wrote a letter to the Food Safety and Inspection Service urging it to block what it said was the imminent slaughter of a number of cloned dairy cattle in Maryland, expressing concern that the meat would end up in the food supply.

“There is widespread concern among Americans and scientific concern that cloned food may not be safe and that cloning will increase animal cruelty,” said Joseph Mendelson, legal director for the Center for Food Safety. “We intend to pursue our legal action to compel FDA to address the many unanswered questions around cloned food.”

Most industry groups are taking a cautious approach. The International Dairy Foods Association says it supports a continued moratorium on milk and meat from cloned animals until “a full dialogue on FDA’s draft Risk Assessment can take place.”