Safe to Eat That Cloned Cow

Deborah 3 is a clone of a prize-winning cow, who was a four-time Iowa fair winner and a top-quality milk producer. Now she is at the center of a debate over what we eat.

"With pedigree and everything we decided to try to clone her," farmer Frank Regan said.

Regan paid $25,000 to have a cloning company take DNA from the original Deborah. In a lab, the DNA was turned into embryos then implanted into surrogate mothers, who gave birth to Deborahs 1, 2 and 3.

"Well as far as I know, there's no difference between a cloned cow and a bred cow," Regan said.

And Tuesday the government agreed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported that the meat and milk from cloned cows are safe for human consumption. The FDA said its decision came after extensive study of some 600 clones. The agency examined their health and the characteristics of the animals' meat and milk.

"The milk and meat from clones are as safe to eat as the food we eat every day," FDA Deputy Commissioner Randall Lutter said.

But critics insist that cloning is a new field, and there are too many unknowns.

Joseph Mendelson of the Center for Food Safety said, "We don't think that the data has been looked at fully. We don't think that data fully exists."

Opponents also want meat and milk from clones labeled as such, but the government says it won't require that.

Today at a popular Washington, D.C., steakhouse, diners were decidedly skittish.

When asked why the idea of eating cloned meat bothered her, diner Gina Stewart responded, "Because it's not natural, the fact that you're going to clone a cow, and then you want me to -- no, it doesn't work for me."

Another diner, Gerry Coffman, responded, "The jury is still out. I'll give it a little more time."

Because of that reluctance, some big food companies, such as Hormel, say they won't use cloned products, and some organic farmers, seeing booming sales, also think it's the wrong way to go.

It may take some time before cloned animals end up in grocery store, but the offspring of cloned animals -- those born the old-fashioned way -- are free to go into the food supply.