News Date: 01/24/2008
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced January15 that meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals. The agency also issued three documents on animal cloning outlining the agency's regulatory approach--a risk assessment; a risk management plan; and guidance for industry.
Since food derived from these sources is no different from food derived from conventionally bred animals, the agency is not requiring labeling or any other additional measures for food from cattle, swine, and goat clones, or their offspring. An animal clone is a genetic copy of a donor animal, similar to an identical twin, but born at a different time. Cloning is not the same as genetic engineering, which involves altering, adding or deleting DNA; cloning does not change the gene sequence. Due to their cost and rarity, clones are intended to be used as elite breeding animals to introduce desirable traits into herds more rapidly than would be possible using conventional breeding.
Because clones would be used for breeding, they would not be expected to enter the food supply in any significant number. Instead, their sexually reproduced offspring would be used for producing meat and milk for the marketplace. At this time, the agency continues to recommend that food from clones of species other than cattle, swine and goat (e.g., sheep) not be introduced into the food supply.
In 2001, U.S. producers agreed to refrain from introducing meat or milk from clones or their progeny into the food supply until FDA could further evaluate the issue. USDA will convene stakeholders to discuss efforts to provide a smooth and orderly market transition, as industry determines next steps with respect to the existing voluntary moratorium.
The FDA documents on animal cloning, including the risk assessment; risk management plan; industry guidance, and other information are available on the agency's website at http://www.fda.gov/cvm/cloning.htm. (Contact: Bob Ehart)
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