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Cloned Meat & Milk Soon on Your Grocery Shelves

The arrival of meat or milk from cloned animals in America's grocery stores takes a giant step forward today with the release of a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report that says cloned animals pose no greater risk to human health than normally bred animals. This greatly increases the likelihood that the FDA will lift its voluntary ban on the sale of meat, milk and food products made from cloned animals in 2002. The sale of products made from cloned animals is only the first piece of a much larger picture--the sale of "transgenic" animals. Companies around the globe are already working to genetically modify animals to produce drugs and all manner of chemicals.

If this piece of news does not concern you then you will want to familiarize yourself with the hazards of GM food. This is especially troubling as the United States produces more GM food than any country in the world. GM food has never been proven safe, and the FDA appears to be ignoring evidence that genetically modified food genes can contaminate humans.

The FDA has not done adequate research to reach this conclusion. They are making assumptions without data to back it up and apparently ignoring research that raises many concerns about this experimental technology.

For example, last year researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published interesting information on cloned rats in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They looked at the placentas and livers of newborn cloned mice and found many abnormal genes. Nearly 50 percent of the 'imprinted genes' involved in the development of the embryo were incorrectly expressed. There is no reason in the world to assume that any other mammal, including humans, would be different from mice. Several cloning researchers have said their cloned livestock, such as cattle, sheep and pigs, are normal and healthy if they get past birth. It is likely that genetic abnormalities will be found even in these seemingly normal animals. Some of the abnormalities are simply not fatal.

In 1992, the FDA decided that genetically engineered foods are "substantially equivalent" to non-genetically engineered foods and therefore need no special labeling. Now the FDA appears ready to rule that cloned animals are the same as normal animals and again the American public will not have the right to have labeling.

If unlabeled meat and milk from cloned animals gets introduced into the U.S. food supply, the media is likely to give it a lot of attention -- much more than they have given to genetically engineered foods. It is likely that the beef, poultry, pig and dairy industries will have significant public relations challenges on their hands.

New York Times October 31, 2003

USA Today October 31, 2003

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