Following the USDA’s announcement Tuesday that meat and milk from cloned animals is safe for human consumption, Smithfield Foods has reiterated its position that the company isn't planning to produce meat from cloned animals.
"The science involved in cloning animals is relatively new," Smithfield Foods said in a prepared statement, issued just hours before FDA's official announcement. "As thoughtful leaders in our industry, we will continue to monitor further scientific research on this technology."
Smithfield isn't alone. Tyson Foods also said the use of cloned animals is not in its plans.
"Tyson currently has no plans to purchase cloned livestock,” said company spokesman Gary Mickelson. "Whatever measures we ultimately take will be guided by government regulations and the desires of our customers and consumers."
FDA issued three documents outlining its regulatory approach on cloning, including a risk assessment, a risk management plan and guidance for the industry. The agency originally released these documents in draft form in December 2006, when it gave its preliminary blessing of food from cloned animals. Since then, more information has reinforced its position, the agency said.
Because FDA has deemed food from cloned livestock and their progeny to be "no different" than that produced by conventional animals, the agency is not requiring special labeling. However, FDA said it will, on a case-by-case basis, consider producers' requests to voluntarily label their products.
There are currently some 600 animal clones in the United States, most of which are breeding animals, "so few clones will ever arrive in the marketplace," said Knight. The progeny of clones would be used for producing meat and milk for the marketplace.
The FDA ruling deems meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine and goats, "and the offspring of clones from any species traditional consumed as food," as safe to eat, though the agency said there was insufficient information to reach a conclusion on the safety of food from other animals, such as sheep.