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More Research Required on Cloned Foods

by 5m Editor
18 December 2007, at 10:29am

US - An amendment to the Senate's Farm Bill that details more testing of food from cloned animals will slow down the rate at which such foods enter the food chain.

The amendment requires that two rigorous studies be performed before the FDA is able to issue a final decision on food from clones. It also calls for a detailed review of the human health and economic impacts of introducing cloned foods. A requirement lobbyists are supporting but, scientists who developed the technology feel is unnecessary.

After assessment of the available scientific evidence surrounding cloning, The FDA concluded that there were no additional safety risks posed by the technology when compared to other assisted reproductive technologies currently in use in US agriculture.

However, fierce opposition from health groups, consumer advocacies and the livestock industry has sparked a heated debate, which has culminated in the proposal of an amendment to the 2007 Farm Bill.

According to the Centre for Food Safety (CFS), a public interest group at the forefront of the fight against cloning said that the FDA's flawed and cavalier approach to cloned food and its potential impacts called for a truly rigorous scientific assessment.

"At a time when the FDA has repeatedly failed the public, this amendment will ensure that the American consumer is considered before any special interest," said Joseph Mendelson, legal director of CFS.

Flawed

Advanced by Senators Barbara Mikulski and Arlen Specter, amendment 3524 which was designed to address concerns that the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) risk assessment of the controversial technology was flawed.

"I believe in science, in research, and in a transparent process. Before we allow cloned animals into our food supply, we must know more about it. When something is this new, unclear and uncertain, we need to be sure," said Senator Mikulski.

"Just because something has been created in a lab, doesn't mean we should have to eat it. If we discover a problem with cloned food after it is in our food supply and it's not labeled, the FDA won't be able to recall it like they did Vioxx - the food will already be tainted. We have been down this road before with product safety - the FDA has a credibility crisis," she said.

The new bill directs the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to examine consumer acceptance of cloned foods and the likely impacts they could have on domestic and international markets. And more research would also go a long way in allaying consumer concerns about cloning.

A recent national survey commissioned by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), found that 50 per cent of American consumers have an unfavorable view of cloning, while 28 per cent remain neutral. The Consumers Union, in its recent survey, found that 89 per cent of Americans want food from cloned animals to be labeled.

Last week The US Senate passed the 2007 farm bill, The Food and Energy Security Act, by an overwhelming majority of 79-14. The Senate and House Agriculture Committees must now agree on the provisions of the final bill during conference, which will take place in early 2008.

5m Editor