US senators want cloned meat labelled

18-04-2007 | |

A bill pending in the California Legislature demands that steaks, pork chops, milk and other products from cloned livestock is to clearly labelled when they enter the stores.

The bill introduced in Congress by Senator Barbara Mikulski would require cloned meat or milk products to carry a label reading: “This product is from a cloned animal or its progeny.” State Senator Carole Migden said consumers have the right to know what they’re buying and to be able to decide if they want to eat food from cloned animals. That is especially true because the long-term consequences of eating artificially produced animals is still not known, she said.

Consumers reaction

Migden pointed to recent polls she said suggest the FDA’s ruling on cloned food could be influential with consumers. A Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology survey found that 64% of respondents were sceptical about animal cloning. But a University of Maryland poll found that the same percentage said they would buy, or consider buying, such food if the government said it was safe. The California Cattlemen’s Association and other industry groups however, are against the legislation.

Safe or not safe?

The FDA in December issued a preliminary report saying there was no evidence that eating meat from cloned cows, pigs and goats – or their offspring – presents concerns about food safety. The agency could grant final approval for manufacturers to sell cloned animal products by year’s end. However, according to research by Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, the FDA has based its preliminary findings on limited samples, said Jean Halloran, the group’s director of food policy initiatives. Findings that cloned pork could be safe, for example, were based on tests of just five pigs, while the findings about cows’ milk were from 43 cows.

Organic seal
With or without labels, consumers have at least one clue they’re not eating cloned meat: The US Department of Agriculture’s green organic seal, given to food produced without pesticides or antibiotics, also means clone-free, according to the agency.

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(Source: Associated Press)