Back in 1996, the world's first cloned animal, a sheep named Dolly, was born. Now, in 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is poised to release a risk assessment that is expected to declare food products that are derived from cloned animals are safe for the food supply.
And it seems that clone-derived meat products would be accepted by American consumers, according to a study from the same press release. The research, commissioned by animal breeding firm ViaGen, showed that one third of consumers would buy meat and milk from the offspring of cloned animals, and one third would consider buying it given more information. The last third, however, said they would never buy it.
There are no American regulations preventing cloned food from entering the American food supply. But the FDA's upcoming release of its risk assessment report is expected to open the gates to cloned animal products as part of the food supply, without requiring such foods to carry special labelling. The risk assessment draft, published in 2003, analyzed more than 100 scientific studies. The agency concluded that according to current evidence, there are no biological reasons to indicate that consumption of edible products from the clones of cattle, pigs, sheep or goats poses a greater risk than consumption of non-clone products.
However, until the FDA has reviewed public comments and issues a final risk assessment and risk management plan, they are asking clone producers and breeders to continue to voluntarily refrain from making available meat or milk from clones. For a fact sheet on cloned animal product food safety, go to www.centerforfoodsafety.org
Canada has yet to determine whether cloned animal food products should be made available to the public.
What ever happened to Dolly, you may ask? She was euthanized at 6 years of age, suffering from progressive lung disease. Sheep can live to the age of 11 or 12.
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