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Migden introduces cloned meat bill

By Elizabeth Daley, Bay City News Service

January 21, 2007

In response to draft documents issued by the FDA touting the safety of cloned animal products, Senator Carole Migden, D-San Francisco introduced legislation this week that would require clear labeling of food products derived from cloned animals.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a cloned animal is a genetic copy of a donor animal that is like an identical twin, but born at a separate time.

In documents issued by the FDA on Dec. 28 officials claimed "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 FDA documents indicate clones will not generally be used for food but, according to the report, "because of their cost and rarity, clones will be used as any other breeding stock-to pass on naturally-occurring, desirable traits such as disease resistance and higher quality meat to production herds."

"Almost all the food that comes from the cloning process is expected to come from sexually reproduced offspring and decedents of clones, not the clones themselves," reads a statement issued by the FDA.

However, in a future where many animals descend from clones, it appears genetic variety that produces such things as disease resistance may be more limited.

"Based on FDA's analysis of hundreds of peer-reviewed publications and other studies on health and food composition of clones and their offspring, the draft risk assessment has determined that meat and milk from clones and their offspring are as safe as the food we eat every day," said Stephen F. Sundlof, veterinarian and director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.

"Cloning poses no unique risks to animal health when compared to other assisted reproductive technologies currently in use in U.S. agriculture," he said.

While risks, like the animals themselves, may not be "unique," many Americans, like Migden do not believe we should undertake them.

"Like a majority of Americans, I have concerns about why cloned cows should be part of our food system," said Migden in a statement.

According to Migden, a poll conducted in 2006 by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found two-thirds of American consumers were "uncomfortable" with the idea of cloning animals and 43 percent believe food from cloned animals would be unsafe to eat.

"Suddenly we are in a fever pitch to diversify food, but we ought to pause and not be precipitous about human food safety," said Migden.

"Because the FDA's safety assessment was based on so little data and because of the serious health problems of many experiment-cloned animals, we believe that if food products from cloned animals are introduced for sale in California, they should be labeled, so that consumers can decide whether or not they want to buy them," said Elisa Odabashian, director of the West Coast office of the Consumers Union.

The FDA will be accepting public comments on the three documents outlining guidelines for the introduction of animal clones into our food chain until April 2.

According to Migden, if cloned food products were introduced into the market America would be the first country to dine on the decedents of duplicates.

Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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