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FDA tentatively okays cloning animals for milk and meat.

Milk and meat from some cloned farm animals are safe to eat, says the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But what is doubtless going to be a controversial ruling isn't likely to have any immediate impact.

For one thing, that ruling still needs to be finalized before the United States becomes the first country to allow products from cloned livestock to be sold in grocery stores. For another, the technology for cloned foods is still too expensive to be used widely. But the anti-cloning sharks are gathering.

"At the end of the day, FDA is looking out for a few cloning companies and not for consumers or the dairy industry," said Joseph Mendelson, legal director for the Center for Food Safety, an advocacy group, which argues that the science is shaky and that consumer surveys show that most people are opposed to cloning animals, let alone eating them.

Opponents hope to bring Congressional pressure to bear to derail the policy before it becomes final, or at least to require that such foods be labeled so consumers can choose to avoid them. FDA officials said that it was unlikely that labeling would be required because food from cloned animals is indistinguishable from other food, although a final decision about labeling has not been made.

The FDA's finding comes more than six years after the agency first decided to study the matter, after recognizing that the advent of cloned farm animals raised a food safety issue. After that study, the agency in 2003 gave a tentative approval to cloned animals for food. But the FDA retreated after its own advisory panel found there was insufficient scientific backing.

This time, FDA officials presented substantial new data in a nearly 700-page "draft risk assessment." The assessment concluded that milk and meat from cloned cows, pigs and goats, and from their offspring, were "as safe to eat as the food we eat every day," said Stephen F. Sundlof, the FDA's chief of veterinary medicine.
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Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jan 1, 2007
Words:330
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