A bipartisan group of senators has asked the Food and Drug Administration to rewrite its draft risk assessment on meat and milk from cloned animals. FDA was planning to publish it before year's end. It concluded that there are no safety risks associated with eating meat or milk from cloned animals. The senators want FDA to review new evidence before publishing the risk assessment.

“At this time, based on an extensive set of data and information, the agency has concluded that cloning falls on the continuum of assisted reproductive technologies currently in use in U.S. agriculture, and that there are no hazards in or risks posed by clones, their progeny or the food derived from these animals that are not already present in other conventionally bred food animals that enter the food supply,” according to an FDA statement.

The plan was for FDA to publish the risk assessment in the peer-reviewed journal. Consumer groups argue that FDA and USDA have ignored certain data associated with animal cloning.

The seven senators signing the FDA letter include Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Herb Kohl (D-WI), and Arlen Specter (R-PA). They want FDA to reassess factors, including new data, then revisit the comment period before issuing a risk assessment. They also warned FDA not to lift the voluntary ban on cloned animals. FDA officials say there was no plan to lift the ban. The senators also want FDA to run its analysis by USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative.

“FDA must not pursue lifting the current ban without a complete consideration of the impact this would have on global trade and the implications for economic impact," said the letter.

Source: John Wilkerson, Insidehealthpolicy.com, The Integer Groups