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3-Food: FDA may OK sale of cloned-cow goods

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

TITLE:  FDA may OK sale of cloned-cow goods
SOURCE: The Baltimore Sun, USA, by Jonathan D. Rockoff
DATE:   2 Oct 2005

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FDA may OK sale of cloned-cow goods

WASHINGTON -- The federal government is nearing a decision to allow the
sale of meat and milk from cloned cows and their offspring, according to
officials from government, industry and consumer groups.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to take a major step
toward approval soon by proposing to permit the sales, subject to 60 days
of public comment and some additional review.

That could lead to choice cuts of steak and cartons of milk produced from
cloned cattle landing in kitchens in the next several years.

Given the high cost of cloning, though, industry officials and consumer
advocates said it's more likely consumers would be sold the meat of
offspring of cloned cattle, not of the clones themselves.

"You're not producing them to eat; you're producing them to breed," said
Scott Davis, president of Start Licensing, a joint venture that owns the
licenses for cloning livestock. He said cloning a cow would cost $15,000.

Even after the FDA reaches a decision, livestock producers will need up
to four years or more to raise offspring ready for slaughter, and most
dairy farmers may ignore the technology until the cost falls, their trade
groups said.

Once approval comes, however, industry and consumer groups are concerned
that a public backlash will follow. Studies support the safety of the
food products, but surveys indicate many Americans remain jittery or
harbor ethical concerns.

"A train wreck is coming," said Carol Tucker Foreman of the Consumer
Federation of America. "It's not about the science. It's how people see
their food."

Some consumer advocates and dairy companies have urged regulators to
delay a decision until those fears can be calmed. Yet with studies
supporting the food's safety accumulating, the FDA has edged toward approval.

The FDA had said an announcement was likely within the next few weeks,
but the recent surprise resignation of FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford
may delay it, according to industry and consumer groups.

The FDA said its ruling will encompass cloning of goats, pigs and sheep,
as well as cows.

Since 1997, Americans have been eating processed foods made with
genetically modified vegetables, such as corn and soybeans. But many
consumers regard goats and pigs differently from canola and squash, polls

Sanford Miller, former director of the FDA's food-safety office, said
research hasn't raised safety concerns.

"As far as we can tell, there doesn't seem to be a difference" between
food from cloned animals and conventionally bred animals, he said.


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