FDA rules that food from cloned animals is safe
On Thursday, the FDA released a Draft Risk Assessment stating that milk and meat from cloned cows, pigs, and goats were "as safe to eat as the food we eat every day". (They did not include sheep because they did not have enough data, but presumably the same conclusion would apply.) You can see a press release on the document here: http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2006/NEW01541.html and access the full document here: http://www.fda.gov/cvm/CloneRiskAssessment.htm While there are reasons to believe the public might be a bit squeamish about eating meat or milk from a cloned animal, it is simply because they do not understand the science. A recent poll by the Pew Initiative for Food and Biotechnology found that 64 percent of respondents said they were uncomfortable with food from cloned animals, although 43% of the respondents said they had heard "not too much" or "nothing at all" about animal cloning. While it is still early in the process of informing the public, Pew concludes that "education appears to increase American’s perceptions of the safety of food derived from animal clones, though a plurality consistently believes food from animal clones is unsafe. Just 17% of Americans with high school degrees or less feel food derived from animal clones is safe and 47% believe it is unsafe. Among those with some college, fears about safety subside slightly, and 25% feel it is safe and 42% unsafe. College educated Americans are also somewhat more confident in the safety of food from animal clones, with 24% believing it is safe and 40% unsafe." There was no reason to believe the scientific conclusion about the safety of such food would be an different from food from a non-cloned animal. (Similarly, there is no good reason to suspect there would be a problem with genetically modified grains, but that's an issue for a different day.) Some companies, i.e. organic food producers and squishy greenies like Ben & Jerry's will probably make "non-cloned" part of their marketing just as they do with "organic", and good for them. That's what makes a market. But at the end of the day, if meat or milk producers can make a better and less expensive product by cloning animals that are the most efficient producers of the best milk or meat, they will and should do so. (Currently, as with any new technology, cloning is quite expensive and not likely to become widely practiced for large-scale food production. But eventually the process should become better and cheaper, causing more farmers to use it.) The chemistry of cloned food products is identical to non-cloned; there is no reason to fear it. And if cloning animals lets us have that much extra available cash to buy a better house or a nicer vacation, then we should accept and applaud the advance just as we do with any technological change that improves our standards of living.
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