The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture on Tuesday said he doesn’t know whether cloned cows or their offspring have made it into the North American food supply.
But Tom Vilsack, in Ottawa to talk trade with food exporters and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, emphasized that if they have, the animals are safe to eat.
“I can’t say today that I can answer your question in an affirmative or negative way. I don’t know. What I do know is that we know all the research, all of the review of this is suggested that this is safe,” Mr. Vilsack told reporters, pointing to an assessment of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Mr. Vislack said that because science is often “ahead of the regulatory process and ahead of the ethics discussion,” the U.S. will continue their “moratorium” on not allowing the sale of meat from cloned animals until the products are widely accepted as safe.
Mr. Vilsack’s comments come a week after the U.K. Food Standards Agency told consumers in that country that descendants of a clone made their way into the local food supply. The cattle were the offspring of a cloned cow in the U.S. and were shipped to the U.K. as embryos.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is investigating a claim that embryos from a cow bred from a cloned parent animal in Britain have been sold to breeders in Canada.
A spokesman for Mr. Ritz said there are no products derived from cloned animals approved for sale in Canada, and CFIA would inform the minister if the agency found evidence that food regulations had been violated.
“To date, this has not happened,” said Matthew Wolf.
Two years ago, the U.S. FDA concluded that cloned pigs, goats and cattle were safe to eat, as were their progeny. However, the European Parliament recently moved to ban the sale of meat or dairy from cloned animals and their offspring.
In Canada, the departments of agriculture, health and environment, along with CFIA, produced a draft assessment of the safety of cloned animals in August 2008, but it is still in the review stage.
Lucy Sharratt, co-ordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, says “this whole issue of genetically engineered animals is huge,” but the government appears unperturbed by the sector’s growth and the potential for entering the food chain.
“If experimental, non-regulated, genetically-engineered animals or crops get into the food system, they don’t necessarily care unless the public makes it an issue. That’s our experience,” said Ms. Sharratt.
As the last sentence suggests, this is probably a test of the public's reaction in order to determine if we will accept the sales of cloned cow products. (And if that works, then it's on to chickens and pigs, no doubt.) Here's my reaction: I won't touch it if I know it's cloned, and I'll tell everyone that cares to do the same thing. I don't want to touch anything that comes out out of a laboratory, or was created with the assistance of one. But I'm a vegetarian, so I don't have as much to worry about in this case. What bothers me is that the milk will be harder to avoid, since it will be used in many other products.
Re: Meat from cloned cows may have entered the US food suppl
I don't understand why they have to clone cows for food production. Is it more profitable and would they earn more if they would do that? I heard that even genetically cloned animals are not immune to diseases and they are still prone to acquire illnesses.