FDA Issues Draft Risk Assessment on Milk and Meat from Cloned Animals; IDFA Handles Heavy Media Volume; Coverage Includes New Insight
As anticipated, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last Thursday released its draft Risk Assessment on the safety of milk and meat from cloned animals. The long-awaited assessment states that food from cloned animals is as safe as conventionally bred animals.
The draft assessment is posted at FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) website, www.fda.gov/cvm/cloning.htm, along with the Proposed Risk Management Plan, a Draft Guidance for Industry and other companion documents.
FDA is accepting comments on the draft Risk Assessment until April 2, 2007, and won't lift the voluntary moratorium on meat and milk from cloned cows entering the food supply during the comment period and while it evaluates those comments. IDFA will review the draft and work with members to develop appropriate comments regarding the Risk Assessment.
IDFA has compiled for members a variety of resources related to the draft Risk Assessment and posted them at www.idfa.org, under the "Regulation and Food Safety" section. The resources include IDFA's statement to the media, two member hotlines, an abstract of the draft Risk Assessment, a legal white paper on labeling issues, and IDFA's summary of consumer research conducted by the International Food Information Council. To access the full list of resources, click here.
The media coverage of FDA's announcement provided updated information on the cloning issue from a variety of angles. On the topic of international trade, The New York Times reports that, because no other country has yet approved food from cloned animals, American exports of milk or meat could be blocked by some countries. A European Union official indicated that European politicians and consumers are sure to debate the issue.
Stephen Sundlof, director of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, said that no other country in the world has yet permitted food from cloned animals. The Financial Times quoted Sundlof as saying, "I think [other countries] are waiting to see what the FDA has produced in this risk assessment before moving themselves." Sundlof noted that FDA has been in close contact with the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding potential impact on exports, and that these offices have been in touch with U.S. posts around the world. He also said that Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Italy, France, Germany and Korea all have active research programs in cloning agricultural animals.
Some customers and other food companies also gave their opinions on cloning. According to the Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has no plans to sell products from cloned livestock, while Tyson Foods Inc. said the company would be following the issue closely before making any decisions.
The Wall Street Journal also spoke with ViaGen Inc. President Mark Walton, who predicted that the cost of cloning an animal would drop dramatically, from $15,000 to as little as $5,000 or $6,000 per animal, if there is a surge in demand following FDA's assessment. That drop could make cloning financially appealing for meat and milk producers, according to Walton.
IDFA spoke with many reporters last week, providing the dairy industry's perspective to customers and consumers through these media outlets: The New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, L.A. Times, Newark Star Ledger, Bloomberg, Bloomberg TV, NBC Nightly News and local affiliates, ABC World News Tonight, CBS Radio, AP Television (feeds to cable stations), CNN, National Public Radio, Marketplace (on NPR) and PBS Nightly Business Report. Members can click on the following links to read and view a sampling of the coverage. To read the New York Times article, "F.D.A. Tentatively Declares Food from Cloned Animals to Be Safe," click here. To read the AP article, "Cloned food may prompt 'clone-free' labels," click here. To view the NBC Nightly News segment, "Cloning," click here.
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Posted January 2, 2007