January 18, 2008
January 18, 2008 - After years of detailed study and analysis, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded 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. There was insufficient information for the agency to reach a conclusion on the safety of food from clones of other animal species, such as sheep.
FDA issued three documents on animal cloning outlining the agency's regulatory approach-a risk assessment; a risk management plan; and guidance for industry. All three documents are available at www.fda.gov/cvm/cloning.htm.
Farmers have long observed a voluntary moratorium on the sale of clones and their offspring into the food supply. The FDA effectively lifted that for clone offspring.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) fully supports FDA's final assessment.
However, it has asked farmers to continue withholding clones themselves from the food supply, saying the department wanted time to allay concerns among retailers and overseas trading partners.
"We are very cognizant we have a global environment as it pertains to movement of agricultural products," said Bruce Knight, under secretary of agriculture for marketing and regulatory programs.
It is understood that there are currently only about 600 animal clones in the United States, and most of them are breeding animals, so few clones will ever arrive in the marketplace.
Many farmers and ranchers routinely use other assisted reproductive technologies such as artificial insemination, embryo transfer and in vitro fertilization to produce superior animals for milk, meat or breeding purposes. Cloning is another breeding technique that has evolved and has now been demonstrated to be safe. It is helpful in creating genetic twins of the very best animals who can transmit superior characteristics to their offspring and quickly improve a herd.