Food from Clones has Questionable Benefits, Certain Drawbacks

Just this week, the Food and Drug Administration announced it intends to lift a voluntary moratorium on selling products from cloned animals to consumers. The Union of Concerned Scientists is urging FDA to conduct a more comprehensive safety review of food products from cloned animals and their offspring and develop a labeling system for cloned food if it is allowed to market.

The potential gains from cloning particularly productive animals come at the expense of a potential increase in animal suffering. Most attempted clones are grossly defective and are lost early in development (cloning success rates generally range from zero to 20 percent). Defects among cloned animals include overly large fetuses, placental disorders and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Although defects occur at a higher rate among cloned animals than with other assisted reproductive technologies, FDA dismissed animal health concerns because the defects are not unique to cloning. FDA proposes no special oversight of the technology and no further testing, monitoring, or labeling of food from animal clones and their offspring. Without oversight, consumers will have no knowledge of or control over whether animal clones or their offspring are in their food supply.

Additionally, technical advances in animal food cloning would readily transfer to attempts at cloning humans.

On balance, the potential benefits from cloning animals are outweighed by the drawbacks.

FDA will take public comments on its draft risk assessment for cloning for 90 days. If you'd like to submit a comment, visit FDA's site and click "Docket Search" above the listings of dockets. The cloned food Docket ID is 2006P-0145.