The Food and Drug Administration is expected to declare that meat and milk from cloned animals safe to enter the American food supply, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The announcement of an amendment to the Farm Bill (H.R. 2419) at the end of last year suggested that approval for cloned food was far away. Moreover, the FDA had previously asked cloned animal producers not to sell animals until it announces the results of its ruling on safety, said the Journal.
But an unnamed source indicated to the Wall Street Journal that the FDA is set to declare the meat and dairy of the animals safe as early as next week.
FDA in December issued its assessment of the available scientific evidence surrounding cloning, which concluded that there were no additional safety risks posed by the technology when compared to other assisted reproductive technologies currently in use in US agriculture.
However, Senators Barbara Mikulski and Arlen Specter proposed amendment 3524 to address concerns that the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) risk assessment of the controversial technology was flawed.
Furthermore, the Center for Food Safety (CFS), a non-profit science-based public interest group, released a review of the FDA's risk assessment agreeing with the senators, stating that FDA's assessment was based on "flawed assumptions and misrepresented findings", and claimed that FDA found virtually no scientific evidence to support the commercial release of these experimental foods.
"Animal cloning is a new technology with potentially severe risks for food safety. Defects in clones are common, and cloning scientists warn that even small imbalances in clones could lead to hidden food safety problems in clones' milk or meat. There are few studies on the risks of food from clones, and no long-term food safety studies have been done," the group states on its website.
Despite new noises indicating an imminent safety green light, it could be between three and five years before meat and milk from cloned animals reaches the shelves and consumers' mouths, according to the Wall Street Journal. This is because of the costs involved in producing a cloned animal - reported to be between $15,000 and $20,000 per animal.
Results of a consumer survey in July 2007 showed that 50 percent of American consumers have an unfavorable view of cloning, while 28 percent remain neutral. The national survey, commissioned by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), reported that only 22 percent of the 1,000 people interviewed viewed animal cloning in a favorable light.
However, the survey did find that if FDA determined that foods from cloned animals are safe, 46 percent of consumers would view the technology favorably, with 49 percent saying they would likely purchase such products if safety determinations were offered.