Cloned Meat Approved in US

The US Food and Drug Administration has removed the last regulatory barrier to the sale of cloned meat in the US.

In a report released yesterday (15 January), the FDA concluded that "meat and milk from clones of cattle, pigs and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food, are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals."

The agency issued three documents on animal cloning outlining the agency's regulatory approach- a risk assessment; a risk management plan; and guidance for industry. These documents were originally released in draft form in December 2006 and have been updated to include new scientific opinions.

"The new information reinforces the food safety conclusions of the drafts," states the FDA.

The controversial technology has not yet been approved in Europe, although the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) launched a public consultation on the matter on 11 January.

EFSA's draft opinion on animal cloning concluded that although animal health and welfare were adversely affected under current technology, there was no evidence for food safety and environmental concerns.

"Based on current knowledge there is no expectation that clones or their progeny would introduce any new food safety risks compared with conventionally bred animals," states the report.

If the technology is approved in Europe, it is not yet known whether there would be a requirement for labelling. Although scientists claim that labelling would just cause confusion for consumers, critics insist that cloned meat should be labelled so that people have the option to avoid it.

In the US, the FDA has stated it will not require labelling or any other additional measures for food from cloned animals, because "food derived from these sources is no different from food derived from conventionally bred animals."