EFSA Finds Food From Clones To Be Safe

Terry D. Etherton

On July 15, 2008, The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced its final scientific opinion that food from cloned cattle and pigs is safe, and there are no implications of animal cloning on the environment.

The findings of the EFSA Report concur with those presented in the Risk Assessment (RA) released on December 28, 2006, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

As previously discussed in the Terry Etherton Blog on Biotechnology, the FDA RA (“A Risk-Based Approach to Evaluate Animal Clones and Their Progeny – DRAFT”) concluded that “….the available data has not identified any food consumption risks or subtle hazards in healthy clones of cattle, swine, or goats. Thus, edible products from healthy clones that meet existing requirements for meat and milk in commerce pose no increased food consumption risk(s) relative to comparable products from sexually-derived animals.”

Key findings of the EFSA Scientific Committee Report are:

– There is no indication that differences exist in terms of food safety for meat and milk of clones and their progeny compared with those from conventionally bred animals.

– Somatic cell nuclear transfer, or SCNT (the most common technique used to clone animals) results in the production of healthy cattle and pig clones, and healthy offspring that are similar to their conventional counterparts based on parameters such as physiological characteristics, demeanor and clinical status.

– From the data collected, no environmental impact is foreseen.

In February 2007, EFSA was asked by the European Commission to provide a scientific opinion on the food safety, animal health, animal welfare and environmental implications of animal clones, obtained through the SCNT technique, of their progeny and of the products obtained from those animals. The final opinion also follows public consultation on a draft opinion issued earlier this year.

As I have discussed previously, cloned animals will be of value because of their increased genetic merit to provide healthy and nutritious meat and milk. Cloned animals also will increase food production, improve disease resistance, and enhance reproductive efficiency. An additional benefit is that cloning can be used to protect endangered species.

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