US may not label clone stuff
US consumers will most likely not know when they buy hamburgers, bacon and milk products from cloned animals, a technology that could be available by next year.
US consumers will most likely not know when they buy hamburgers, bacon and milk products from cloned animals, a technology that could be available by next year, government and industry officials said on Wednesday.
John Matheson, regulatory review scientist at the US Food and Drug Administration, said the agency would not require labels on cloned animal products if they are considered as safe as traditional food.
'If we find no problems with the products, we have no legal basis to require labels or have companies differentiate between them,' he said at an annual biotech industry conference.
Cloned animals, such as cattle, sheep and poultry, can be farmed to provide more milk or eggs than their counterparts. Researchers also can enhance the nutritional value of food, including lowering cholesterol in eggs and leaner meat with enhanced vitamin content.
A cloned calf can sell for as much as $82,000.
The FDA was expected to release its risk assessment concerning the new technology later this summer. The report will be the foundation for new FDA guidelines, which could allow these products to be available by next year.
'These products are perfectly safe,' said Steven Stice, chief scientific officer of Georgia-based ProLinia Inc. 'There's no need for labels.'
The privately owned company, which sells cloned cows and pigs, was in discussions with mega-pork producer Smithfield Foods Inc., Stice said.
Last year, the National Academy of Sciences found no significant health risks from cloned animal products. The report did recommend stronger US government oversight to ensure its safety.
Joe Mendelson, legal director for the Center for Food Safety, said it hoped FDA would allow consumers to make a choice on whether to purchase cloned meat.
'I certainly think consumer views are material and should be a legal basis for labelling,' he said.
How consumers react to cloned animal meat could significantly influence the commercialisation of future biotech products.
Erik Forsberg, vice president of Wisconsin-based Infigen Inc., said consumer acceptance of cloned animal meat would help alleviate fears surrounding xenotransplants. The privately owned company produces cloned cows and pigs in hopes of selling its organs for human use.