Center for Food Safety Reveals that Milk and Meat from Clones is Untested and May Pose Health Risks to Consumers
Washington, DC (March 21, 2007) - The Center for Food Safety today issued a report critical of the Food and Drug Administration’s recent risk assessment on animal clones. The Center's review reveals that the risk assessment (which claims to show the safety of cloned food) relies almost entirely on unsupported assumptions and is based "more on faith than science." The Center is calling on FDA to issue a mandatory ban on the use of clones in food production until long-term studies demonstrate the safety of these foods and the vitally important ethical and animal welfare issues in cloning are resolved.
The Center's report "Not Ready for Prime Time: FDA's Flawed Approach to Assessing the Safety of Food from Animal Clones", was released today during a public comment period on FDA's planned approval of food from animal clones that is slated to close on April 2. The Center and numerous other organizations have requested an extension of the comment period to give Americans adequate time to review the Agency's findings and make their views heard.
The FDA says that food from clones is safe, and while they claim this view is supported by strong science, the Center for Food Safety Report actually shows that FDA found virtually no scientific studies to support the commercial release of these experimental foods. For example:
* FDA found no peer-reviewed studies on meat from cloned cows or on milk or meat from the offspring of cow clones.
* FDA found no peer-reviewed studies on meat from cloned pigs or their offspring.
* FDA found no peer-reviewed studies on meat or milk from cloned goats or their offspring.
* FDA found just three peer-reviewed studies on milk from cloned cows; all three studies showed differences in milk from clones that should have prompted further research.
"FDA's flawed approach falls far short of providing the kind of rigorous scientific assessment that Americans deserve before these experimental animals are allowed into the food supply," said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center.
The report further finds that the FDA's risk assessment is based on flawed assumptions and misrepresented findings. A summary of the report, which is attached, shows that:
1. Despite FDA's claim that there is “no difference” between food from clones and their progeny and food from naturally-bred animals, most of the studies they reviewed found troubling abnormalities and defects in animal clones which could pose food safety risks.
2. Evidence from the Agency's own report and from other scientists shows that cloning does not produce identical "twins" and that cloning therefore may not be useful in breeding. In fact, studies have found that clones from the same parent differ significantly from each other and from their parent animal. A recent scientific study concluded that scientists and breeders agree that cloning may not be useful for livestock production.
3. The FDA review contradicts itself, first claiming that genetically defective clones will pose no risk to the food supply because the sick animals will be detected and removed, but then admitting that some sick and defective clones may in fact end up as food.
4. FDA says the defects seen in clones also occur in natural reproduction, differing only by degree in clones, but the Agency also finds several defects in clones that are rarely or never seen in normal animals. For example, one common abnormality in clones that can result in stillbirth or early death - or death of the mother – occurs in normal cows only once in 7,500 instances, while it may occur in up to 42% of cloned cows.
5. While the FDA claims that improvement in cloning technology is resulting in better success rates for clones, a 2005 scientific review found that success rates in cloning remain less than 5%.
6. FDA asserts that the offspring of clones - not clones themselves - will be used for food and that genetic defects in clones are “corrected” in the offspring. But - as the Center finds, the National Academy of Sciences has questioned the validity of this assumption. Even more troubling, FDA downplays or omits from their assessment studies finding that some genetic defects in clones have been reproduced in clones' offspring.
7. FDA has stated that it will not require labels on food from animal clones. But a 2004 National Academy of Sciences study noted that a national system to identify and track food from animal clones "must be implemented" before cloned foods are marketed.
View the Executive Summary (PDF)
View the full report, Not Ready For Prime Time: FDA's Flawed Approach To Assessing The Safety Of Food From Animal Clones (PDF)
In the News:
Reuters - Group Blasts FDA Plan To Allow Food From Clones