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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 10:46 GMT
US 'will rule cloned food safe'
World's first cloned pigs, born in the US in March 2000
Clones that survive are the same as other animals, the FDA says
Milk and meat from cloned animals will not need special approval or labelling for sale in the United States, the country's food regulator is likely to decide.

Preliminary Food and Drug Administration findings suggest that products from healthy cloned animals are safe.

The FDA is releasing a summary of findings on Friday before a public meeting on the subject.

Consumer groups have objected to the sale of such products.

Cloning animals is currently too expensive to be practical for food production, but farmers could clone top-quality animals for breeding.

Offspring of those clones could then enter the food supply without labelling, the findings imply.

"If we consider [products from clones] materially the same as traditional foods, the role for the FDA would be minimal," the agency's Dr Stephen Sundlof told the New York Times.

'Indistinguishable'

Cloning - making an exact genetic copy of an organism - tends to produce a higher proportion of miscarried embryos and abnormal offspring than traditional reproduction.

As the animal matures, [cloned and other animals] become indistinguishable
Dr Stephen Sundlof, FDA

But the FDA has found that cloned animals that survive infancy seem to be as healthy as other animals and that food from them should pose no risk.

"As the animal matures, [cloned and other animals] become indistinguishable," Dr Sundlof told the Associated Press.

But the agency will engage in public consultation before approving food from cloned animals, starting with an open meeting next Tuesday.

It is posting a summary of its preliminary findings on its website on Friday. A full 300-page report is expected to follow.

A final decision could take another year.

The food industry currently observes a voluntary moratorium on selling products from cloned animals.

It is expected to remain in place until a final FDA ruling.

There are currently estimated to be several hundred cloned cows in the United States, out of a total US cattle population of about 100 million.




SEE ALSO:
Cloned cows could thwart bio-terror
31 Oct 02  |  Science/Nature
Cloned animals 'safe to eat'
21 Aug 02  |  Science/Nature


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