The health problems
associated with cloned animals, particularly those who appear healthy but have concealed illnesses or problems that appear unexpectedly later in life, have the potential to pose real risks to the safety of the food products derived from those animals. Ian Wilmut, a lead scientist involved in the creation of Dolly, the first cloned animal, has warned that even small imbalances in a clone's hormone, protein, or fat levels could compromise the safety of its milk or meat. 1
As part of its risk assessment on animal cloning, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded in 2008 that milk and meat from cloned animals and their offspring are as safe to eat as comparable products from conventional animals. The FDA further announced that it would not require food products from cloned animals or their offspring to be labeled as such.2
Consumer watchdog groups, however, have criticized the FDA’s analysis as flawed, misrepresentative, and scientifically unsound, based on limited data supplied primarily from the cloning companies themselves.
In addition, while food safety is an obvious concern for consumers, it is not the only issue that makes people uncomfortable with animal cloning. For example, surveys indicate that 63 percent of consumers would not buy food from cloned animals even if
it were labeled as “safe.”3
Concerns about the ethics and morality
of cloning, as well as concerns for animal welfare
, lead the overwhelming majority of people to oppose cloning animals for food.
These issues were not considered by the FDA, however, and without labels to identify cloned foods, consumers who oppose animal cloning on animal welfare, food safety, religious, or moral grounds would be forced to unwittingly make purchases that violate their principles. Consumers have a right to know how their food is produced so they can make informed decisions about what they buy and what they feed their families.
Consequently, AAVS, in collaboration with numerous consumer, animal, environmental, and religious organizations, is working with Congressional members on state and federal legislation
to require that cloned foods, if they are approved for public sale, be labeled.
1. Duplicate Dinner (2001, May 19). New Scientist.
2. FDA Press Release (2008, Jan. 15). FDA Issues Documents on the Safety of Food from Animal Clones.
3. The Mellman Group, Inc. (2006). Public Sentiment About Genetically Modified Food (2006). Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology Survey Results.