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Congress should require labeling of cloned food

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Consumers Union Calls on Congress to Require Tracking and Labeling of Clones for Milk and Meat

CU Polls Says 89% of Consumers Want Labels on Cloned Milk and Meat

Washington, DC— Consumers Union calls on Congress to require tracking and labeling of milk and meat from cloned animals in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s assessment that food from cloned animals is safe for consumption.
“The FDA’s own data show that a large proportion of cloned animals do not make it to their first birthday. Many fail to survive gestation, and others have birth defects such as squashed faces, deformed limbs, and immune deficiencies. Consumers have a right to choose whether they eat milk and meat from clones,” states Michael Hansen, PHD, Senior Scientist with Consumers Union.
“It should be mandatory for clones and their offspring to be tracked and their products labeled in the supermarket,” said Hansen. “If cloning were a new animal drug, its use would be prohibited, since animal drugs must be safe for animals and well as humans. But because cloning is a new reproductive technology, there is no law requiring it to be safe for animals. Having our food come from healthy animals helps the food to be safe,” Hansen states. “There is simply too little data for consumers to be completely confident that eating cloned food is safe.”
A Consumers Union national poll conducted in mid-2007 found that 89 percent of consumers want cloned food to be labeled. The poll also found that 69 percent of respondents were concerned about eating milk or meat from cloned animals.
Legislation to require labeling of cloned milk and meat has been introduced into Congress by Senator Barbara Mikulski and by Representative Rosa DeLauro. Legislation introduced in California by State Senator Carole Migden last year, which passed the legislature but was vetoed by the Governor, will be introduced again this session.
Although the industry indicates that it has so far created only about 600 clones, more will be on the way now that FDA has passed on their safety as food. Even if they are used for breeding, they are likely to enter the food supply at some point. Cows that have completed their useful life either as milk producers or breeders generally are processed for beef burger. “I don’t think they will be buried in the back yard,” says Hansen.
A National Academy of Sciences study indicated a concern that if clones are sickly, they might be more likely to carry bacteria that could infect people. Such bacteria include salmonella and e.coli 0157:H7. The FDA risk assessment acknowledged it had no data on this question. Consumers Union supports labeling of both clones and their first and second generation offspring.

Jean Halloran 914-378-2457
Jennifer Fuson 202-462-6262