Clones: Safe to Eat?

Although this document was released more than 3 years ago, it was recently modified so that it popped up in my Google reader. It is the USDA’s Statement in response to the FDA’s Risk Assessment on Animal Clones.

Photo of Dolly by Toni Barros. Some rights reserved.

And should you be wondering, the USDA’s response was positive:

“USDA fully supports and agrees with FDA’s final assessment that meat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones pose no safety concerns, and these products are no different than food from traditionally bred animals.”

In fact, they compare cloning to artificial insemination:

“Many farmers and ranchers routinely use other assisted reproductive technologies such as artificial insemination, embryo transfer and in vitro fertilization to produce superior animals for milk, meat or breeding purposes. Cloning is another breeding technique that has evolved and has now been demonstrated to be safe. It is helpful in creating genetic twins of the very best animals who can transmit superior characteristics to their offspring and quickly improve a herd.”

However, despite the supposed safety, the USDA has not lifted the voluntary moratorium established in 2001 that urges producers to refrain from introducing meat or milk from clones or their progeny into the food supply. The USDA is supposedly in the process of determining “next steps.”

But when the moratorium lifts, ladies and gents, will you even know?

Maybe not. Sorry.

“FDA is not requiring any additional [labeling] measures relating to food derived from adult clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones of any species traditionally consumed as food, including labeling. Under our current laws, FDA may require specific food labeling if there are any safety concerns, or if there is a material difference in the composition of food. We have not identified any food safety concerns, and we have found no material difference in food from clones as compared to food from conventionally bred animals […] Therefore, there is no science-based reason to use labels to distinguish between milk derived from clones and that from conventional animals.”
– FDA’s Consumer FAQs

Piqued your interest? The FDA has a whole section on their website devoted to animal cloning and answering the questions of the curious customer – find those answers here, along with the original FDA risk assessment.

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