What's the beef?
WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration finally released its long-awaited, 968-page, hundreds-of-studies-deep, thousands-of-data-points-thick final assessment of the safety of products from cloned animals. It declared that products from clo...
WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration finally released its long-awaited, 968-page, hundreds-of-studies-deep, thousands-of-data-points-thick final assessment of the safety of products from cloned animals. It declared that products from cloned cattle, swine and goats and their progeny are no different from products from their conventionally bred counterparts.
The conclusions should have surprised few. Draft report after draft report and study after study have said the same thing: Food from cloned animals is safe. Each time similar results were declared, though, pleas from consumer groups and politicians prevented the FDA from finalizing its verdict on "Frankenfoods."
Educating the public
The continued outcry and flimsy arguments that have greeted this thorough and transparent risk assessment show that part of the public still isn't ready for these findings. To avoid a misinformed backlash against the U.S. meat industry, the Agriculture Department has called for a continuation of the voluntary moratorium against putting clonal animal products on the market.
Public awareness campaigns probably would be a good start. One oft-cited proposal for reassuring the public - mandatory labeling of clonal products - probably would only cause more misapprehension about their safety. But that doesn't mean that regulators should rule out voluntary labeling.
Some in the cloning industry have proposed a "supply-chain management program," which would track cloned animals through the food chain and allow companies that choose not to sell clonal food products to verifiably label themselves as such. USDA would be a good candidate for overseeing such a program, just as it oversees labeling claims regarding organic foods.
But the department's main focus should be on informing the public about the established scientific facts regarding cloned animals - and discrediting those who continue to sow groundless fear.
- The Washington Post