Food From Cloned Animals Could Hit Supermarket Shelves

Oct. 18, 2006 — -- The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it was moving closer to approving meat and milk from cloned animals, and some consumer groups are outraged.

Although it sounds like science fiction, in the very near future, milk and meat from cloned animals could be as close as the corner store.

Since Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be successfully cloned from an adult cell, sheep, cows and pigs have been cloned for research and breeding.

"We are not convinced that this is safe food," said Jaydee Hanson, program director for the Center for Food Safety. "We haven't seen the facts that would convince us."

A recent poll conducted by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology shows that 60 percent of Americans are uncomfortable with the idea. Most cited religious and ethical concerns, followed by safety.

While the FDA asks food producers to voluntarily keep copied animals out of the food supply, Dr. Stephen Sundlof, chief of FDA veterinary medicine, said in a statement this type of food was safe.

"Meat and milk from cattle clones and their offspring are as safe as that from conventionally bred animals," he said.

But many people told ABC News that they would eat food from cloned animals only if it were clearly marked.

But cloned food may not be labeled. Experts said it would be too difficult to separate meat in processing plants derived from clones.

"It's very possible that these products will end up on grocery-store shelves without any specific labels identifying them as having come from cloned animals," said Michael Fernandez, executive director of the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology.

It is estimated that there are only between 600 and 2,000 cloned animals in the United States.

The FDA could approve this as early as next year when its final safety report is expected. The food could be on grocery-store shelves shortly thereafter.