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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 December 2006, 20:09 GMT
US body backs sale of cloned food
Cloned cow in Maryland, US
A series of studies have said cloned meat is safe to eat
Meat and milk from cloned animals is safe for human consumption, the US food regulator said in a draft ruling.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that cloned cattle, pigs and goats produced food "as safe as the food we eat every day".

The recommendation, coming after a five-year study, is a major step towards allowing food from animals onto US supermarket shelves.

A public consultation period will take place before final approval is given.

Opponents say a majority of US consumers are against animal cloning.

No unique risks for human food consumption were identified in cattle, swine or goat clones
US Food and Drug Administration

The FDA study examined meat and milk products from cattle, pigs and goats, but not sheep.

It concluded that the cloned animals produced food products virtually indistinguishable from more traditional offerings.

The agency suggested that the results meant it would be unlikely to recommend placing special labels on food from cloned animals.

A final decision on labelling would not be taken until the end of the public consultation period due to begin soon, an FDA official said.

'Bad decision'

Cloned animals are developed when cells are removed from a fertilised embryo and encouraged to develop into duplicate embryos with identical DNA.

A sheep, Dolly, was the first animal successfully cloned, in 1996.

"No unique risks for human food consumption were identified in cattle, swine or goat clones," the FDA said.

It recommended no special safeguards on food produced from cloned animals.

If the meat is really safe as the US authorities claim, why can't they label it and allow consumers to decide?
Padma Rao, Singapore

But consumer groups were less keen on the ruling, which could see the US become the first country to allow cloned food products into the food supply.

Carol Foreman, of the Consumer Federation of America, described the ruling as potentially "a very bad decision".

"We are urging people to write to the FDA, to members of Congress, to urge them to tell the FDA to back off," she told the AFP news agency.

Another group, the International Dairy Food Association, appeared cautious. "Animal cloning is a relatively new technology, and it's important that we have a thorough, deliberative dialogue," the group said in a statement.

Previous scientific studies have come to conclusions similar to those of the FDA.

Produce from cloned cattle 'safe'
12 Apr 05 |  Science/Nature
UN vote urges human cloning ban
08 Mar 05 |  Health
Cloning of flies is latest buzz
04 Nov 04 |  Science/Nature

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