The Food and Drug Administration is poised to approve the sale of meat and milk from cloned animals for food, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, which opposes that move.
The decision could come as early as this week, as the FDA finalizes its health risk assessment, according to the group.
Meanwhile, the Senate has passed legislation as part of its version of the Farm Bill that would require additional studies that could take months or years. Those studies would consider social factors, such as public fear about cloned food and how it might affect milk consumption, in addition to health risks from eating meat or drinking milk from cloned animals. The provision was not part of the House bill, and Congress has yet to reconcile the two versions.
"FDA's announcement appears timed to avoid a provision in the Senate version of the farm bill requiring additional safety tests on cloned products before ending the moratorium," said Margaret Mellon, director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "The FDA should not try to subvert the will of Congress, which has wisely called for further studies to ensure there is no risk to public health."
There is no requirement to label cloned or genetically modified foods.
While groups like UCS oppose the sale of meat and milk from cloned animals for ethical reasons or concern over propagation of genetic defects, the use of genetically modified seeds for food and feed has grown sharply. Most soy beans and corn, now, are grown with seeds genetically modified either to produce substances that repel insects, or to withstand herbicides used to tamp down other plants. These seeds are banned in much of Europe.
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