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3-Food: Americans split over buying cloned mea and milk



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TITLE:  Americans Split over Buying Cloned Meat, Milk - Poll
SOURCE: Reuters, by Christopher Doering
DATE:   7 Nov 2005

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Americans Split over Buying Cloned Meat, Milk - Poll

WASHINGTON - Two-thirds of US consumers said they would either buy or
consider buying meat and milk made from cloned animals if the US
government declared cloning safe, according to the results of a public
opinion poll released on Friday.

The survey was funded by Viagen Inc., a Texas-based company that is
working with cloned cattle, pigs and horses.

About one-third of Americans surveyed said they would definitely buy food
products from cloned offspring if the US Food and Drug Administration
declared the process safe. Another third said they would consider buying
such products.

The remaining consumers surveyed said they did not want to eat food or
consume other products from cloned animals.

"The word cloning ... is science fiction. It seems very futuristic," said
Jennifer Sosin, president of KRC Research, the firm hired by Viagen to
conduct the survey of 1,000 people.

"If I had guessed before doing research on it, I would have expected that
the word alone would be enough to be far more negative" to the results,
she said.

Cloning animals involves taking the nuclei of cells from an existing
adult animal, and fusing them into other eggs that are implanted into a
surrogate mother. The technology produces a biological copy of a normal
animal.

One of the most famous cloned animals, Dolly the sheep, was the first
mammal cloned from an adult cell and was born in 1996. Dolly was
euthanized at the age of 8 because of a degenerative lung condition. The
Catholic Church has theological qualms about cloning, and President Bush
has said he worries "about a world in which cloning becomes acceptable."

Advocates of livestock cloning say it will improve the quality of steaks
and dairy products by propagating the animals that are disease-resistant,
give lots of milk or produce lean and tender meat.

But critics, such as the Humane Society of the United States, say there
are too many unanswered questions about the safety of food from cloned
animals and the possibility of chronic health problems with the animals.

The FDA in October 2003 issued a draft risk assessment saying food from
cloned animals and their offspring was as safe as conventional food. But
an FDA panel urged more research into new technology, delaying a final
decision on selling food from cloned animals.

The agency is widely expected to lift its ban sometime in the next few months.

The KRC survey found 45 percent of consumers said they knew "nothing at
all" about animal biotechnology, while 26 percent said they knew "a
little" and 21 percent knew "some."

Sosin said other technologies, such as the genetic modification of corn
and other food crops, were initially opposed by the public. For animal
cloning to be accepted, consumers need to continue to trust the
regulatory process of the US Agriculture Department and FDA in addition
to understanding why the technology is used, she said.

"If those two things are communicated and get through you'll have plenty
of consumers going, 'OK, I may not love the word 'cloning,' I may be a
little squeamish about it, but I'm not going to lose sleep over it,'"
said Sosin.

The telephone survey was conducted on Oct. 21 to 23. The survey has a
margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.




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