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5-Animals: Meat and milk from clones look normal, study finds

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Meat, Milk From Clones Look Normal, Study Finds
SOURCE: Reuters, by Maggie Fox
DATE:   13 Apr 2005

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Meat, Milk From Clones Look Normal, Study Finds

WASHINGTON - Meat and milk from cloned cattle are virtually identical to the
same products from prize animals bred the old-fashioned way, researchers in
Japan and the United States reported on Tuesday.

While cautioning that their study is not the definitive report on whether it
is safe to eat cloned animals, the researchers said it suggested they might

Xiangzhong Yang of the University of Connecticut and colleagues at the
National Institute of Agrobiological Science and National Institute of
Animal Health in Kagoshima, Japan, cloned beef and dairy cattle and
examined their meat and milk.

They compared the meat and milk from the clones to that of animals of
similar age, breed and genetics bred naturally.

"We found no significant differences in the composition of milk from cloned
animals compared with the comparator animals managed under the same
conditions," the researchers wrote in their report, to be published this
week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The differences found in meat related to levels of fat and fatty acids and
muscle qualities.

Their analysis also suggested that the clones were healthy and normal based
on examination of their chromosomes, which carry the genes, as well as
development and behavior.

In 2002 a National Academy of Sciences panel said it appeared that products
from cloned animals were safe to eat but noted there had been very few
studies. The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue its
initial guidance on the safety of cloned animals products soon.

The FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine has asked companies not to allow
clones, their offspring, or their milk, meat or other products to enter
either the human or animal food supply in the meantime.

The idea behind cloning livestock is to create herds of standardized prize
animals that then could be bred more conventionally. Animals are also
cloned for medical use; for instance, to produce human therapeutic proteins
in their milk.

But cloned animals often appear abnormal and can die at or just after birth.
There is some evidence that the cloning process itself can activate genes
that should not be active and no one knows what the effects of that may be.

It may be a technical issue -- cloning is tricky and some labs are better at
it than others. Yang's team set out to see if it was cloning itself that
caused the problems.

They analyzed the protein, fat, and other variables routinely assessed by
the dairy and meat industries and found no significant differences.

There were 12 differences seen in meat -- eight of them showed higher levels
of fat and fatty acids, which are valued in Japanese beef cattle and within
industry standards, the researchers said.

"The fact that both clones had consistently higher amounts of mesentery fat
and fatty acids compared with the comparators is hardly surprising because
these two clones are genetic copies of a top breeding bull and they both
exhibited the most preferable values as expected," Yang's team wrote.

The other four had to do with muscle qualities and also were within
standards, they said.

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