FDA shouldn't ignore cloned food concerns

US - The biggest obstacle for cloned food will be public acceptance. The Food and Drug Administration has concluded food from cloned animals is safe and opened a public comment period before final approval.
calendar icon 23 January 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

Officials say labeling is unlikely but consumer safety concerns about partaking of cloned meat and milk deserve serious consideration. Labeling allows people to decide for themselves. The agriculture and cloning industry could help their cause by doing a far better job of educating people about cloned food's safety, benefits and need.

A December poll by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found that 64 percent of people were uncomfortable with animal cloning. The most important factor was the impact on them or their families. Other reasons for discomfort included the science involved and trust in providers of the information. The safety of cloned food would likely be scrutinized no matter what but more so now, when people are questioning if we can keep natural food safe. That's fueled by deadly outbreaks of food-borne illnesses such as the spinach contaminated with a strain of E. coli.

The FDA released a 678-page analysis in December concluding that meat from clones of adult cattle, pigs, goats and their offspring is as safe to eat as that from conventionally bred animals. Since 2001, there has been a voluntary moratorium on the sale of products from cloned animals in order for the FDA to have enough time to study the issue. The moratorium will remain in effect until the agency finalizes its policy after reviewing public commentary, which will be accepted until April 2.

People would be wise to make their concerns known and not let the Pew and other studies be the only voice. Those advocating labeling have raised legitimate questions about the depth and the length of the studies, given there are only an estimated 500 to 600 cows and about 250 pigs. Also, while the FDA carefully reviewed numerous scientific studies and data, the fact that some studies were conducted by the cloning companies that stand to benefit from approval doesn't bolster public confidence.

Source: The Grand Rapids Press

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