After much time, research and consideration, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved the marketing and consumption of meat and milk from healthy cloned animals. The long-awaited final report from FDA concludes that foods from healthy cloned animals and their offspring are as safe as those from ordinary animals. The decision removes the last U.S. regulatory barrier to market meat and milk from cloned cattle, pigs and goats.

FDA also provided a 968-page final risk-assessment report, which shows no evidence to support opponents' concerns that food from clones may be harmful or pose risks. The agency report includes hundreds of pages of raw data so that everyone can see how the conclusion was drawn, FDA officials point out.

The report does acknowledge that human health concerns are not the only issues raised by the production and marketing of cloned farm animals. It specifically cites moral, religious and ethical concerns related to the practice. But the risk assessment is "strictly a science-based evaluation," FDA reports, because the agency is not authorized by law to consider those issues.

Previously, FDA officials said they do not expect to require food from animal clones to be labeled as such, but they may allow foods from ordinary animals to be labeled as not from clones.

There remain many opponents to FDA's approval. Joseph Mendelson, legal director of the Washington advocacy group Center for Food Safety, which petitioned FDA to restrict the sale of food from clones, says CFS is considering legal action. The Humane Society of the United States also registered its objection.  Michael Greger, HSUS director of public health and animal agriculture, says “FDA's reckless action is completely unwarranted and unacceptable."

The Farmers Union indicated that it will be urging Congress to pass labeling regulations on cloned food products. In a statement it said: "The economic implications of introducing products from cloned animals into the marketplace could be potentially devastating for family farms and consumers."

The cloning industry has repeatedly said that the technology will not be used to produce animals to be sent directly to market-- it's much too expensive. Rather the technology offers genetic suppliers a way to enhance the consistency of performance and quality traits for parent and grandparent stock.

Source: The Washington Post