Introduction of cloned animals concerns interest groups

By Linda Rano

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food safety Nutrition European food safety authority

The US Center for Food Safety (CFS) has issued a statement
supporting legislation being introduced at federal and state level
to protect consumers against an unregulated introduction of cloned
animals, their off-spring and products into the food chain.

In particular, the CFS is urging Congress to pass an amendment to the Farm Bill, the Mikulski-Spector Amendment (HR4855). This bill requires a moratorium on the introduction of meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring into the food chain until there has been comprehensive testing on the potential long-term affects on human health. Labelling ​ The other bills being introduced (and supported by the Center for Food Safety) call for clear labelling so that consumers can make a choice on whether to buy the cloned product or not. At federal level US HR 992 calls for labelling of cloned food products and by-products, and the establishment of a record-keeping audit system for tracking clones and US S 414 requires labels for all cloned food products as well as a record-keeping audit system. Similar bills are already being introduced in eleven states, they all demand some sort of labelling. At a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) technical meeting last month a report was presented on consumer perceptions of cloned food. It expressed concerns that imposing cloned products on the public without appropriate labelling denies consumer choice and runs counter to consumer protection legislation in Europe. Even if cloned meat is shown to be equivalent to conventional meat, "sections of the public will demand labelling​," said the report. "While labelling based on scientific analysis or traceability may present considerable challenges, if such demands are ignored the voices of protest will be amplified,"​ the report continued. Consumer reaction to cloning Food manufacturers in the US and Europe are increasingly concerned about cloning, as a strong consumer backlash seems likely. The report considered at the recent EFSA meeting, questions how consumers would react to derivatives from cloned animals such as milk products. "In our view it is likely that the focus of public concerns will lean towards cultural taboos and semi-taboos rather than challenges to the scientific evidence​" In its statement the CFS describes a number of surveys that suggest the majority of Americans do not want milk or meat from cloned animals, which is backed up by a December 2006 poll from the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, which found that nearly two thirds of US consumers were uncomfortable with animal cloning. Likewise, a national survey conducted this year found that 89 per cent of Americans want to see cloned foods labelled and 69 per cent have concerns about cloned meat and dairy products in the food supply. FDA/EFSA opinions ​ Earlier this year the Food and Drug Administration's final risk assessment on the safety of meat and milk from healthy cloned animals concluded that they pose no risk to human health. The CFS is challenging this assessment, stating that the FDA claims to have evaluated extensive peer reviewed safety studies but a recent report shows the assessment only referenced three peer-reviewed food safety studies, all of which focus on milk from cloned cows. The CFS statement on the subject added: "What is even more disturbing is that these studies were partially funded by the same biotech firms that produce clones for profit​." In a draft opinion the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also concluded that healthy cloned animals pose no risk to human health. Their final opinion is due in May 2008.

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