An FDA risk assessment draft on the subject of safety of food from cloned animals is expected as soon as December.
"We understand that the conclusion will be that foods from livestock clones and their offspring are as safe as foods from animals raised conventionally," says Dr. Barb Glenn, Managing Director of Animal Biotechnology, Food & Agriculture Section, BIO.
FDA's draft will be open for public comment for 60-90 days. The agency will take those comments into account before releasing final report, which could come anywhere from next spring to well into the future, Glenn says.
Glenn and ViaGen, Inc. Vice President of Sales and Business Development Blake Russell point out three key issues about livestock cloning: that clones are not genetically engineered animals, that the offspring of a clone is not a clone, and that "clones are for breeding, not for eating."
The applications for clones, Russell points out, can extend beyond big systems to small producers as well, as a means of creating elite breeding stock.
ViaGen's Dr. Irina Polejaeva presented research showing that meat from offspring of cloned pigs is not chemically different from the meat of other pigs. Other studies have shown similar results, and FDA is expected to say as much in its draft.
"FDA is not going to label products from clones and their offspring" because there is not a significant chemical difference between foods from conventional and cloned animals. Glenn says. In regards to public acceptance of cloning technology, Glenn says "we feel like the technology will move towards rapid acceptance by consumers."