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Farm Bill Amendment calls for NAS to Study Safety and Impacts of Cloned Meat and Animals

December 18, 2007 Health, News No Comments

Press Release of the Center for Food Safety

Bill Passes by an Overwhelming Majority of 79 to 14; Coalition of Consumer,
Farmer, and Animal Welfare Groups Praise the Senate’s Action

Washington, DC December 14, 2007 – A broad coalition of consumer, farmer, and
animal welfare organizations today applauded passage of a provision in the
Senate’s Farm Bill (H.R. 2419) that would delay the Food and Drug
Administration’s (FDA) endorsement of the use of food from cloned animals. This
amendment, advanced by Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and co-sponsored by Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), calls for a rigorous and careful review of the
human health and economic impacts of bringing cloned food into America’s food
supply. The senate overwhelmingly passed the bill this afternoon by a vote of
79 to 14.

“The passage of this bill with the Mikulski-Specter amendment is like a gift for
the holidays,” said Joseph Mendelson, Legal Director of the Center for Food
Safety. “The FDA’s flawed and cavalier approach to cloned food and its
potential impacts called for a truly rigorous scientific assessment. At a time
when the FDA has repeatedly failed the public, this amendment will ensure that
the American consumer is considered before any special interest.”

The amendment requires that two rigorous studies be performed before the FDA is
able to issue a final decision on food from clones. The amendment directs the
National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to convene a blue-ribbon panel of leading
scientists to review the FDA’s initial decision that food from cloned animals is
safe. The amendment further requires the NAS to study the potential health
impacts of cloned foods entering the nation’s food supply, including the
possible effects of lessened milk consumption (due to consumer avoidance of
cloned food) leading to development of chronic diseases as a result. The bill
also directs the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to examine
consumer acceptance of cloned foods and the likely impacts they could have on
domestic and international markets.

“The FDA risk assessment ignored the fact that most clones never make it to
adulthood because they die in gestation or shortly after birth, and also failed
to consider whether clones might need more drug treatments,” said Dr. Michael
Hansen, Senior Scientist, Consumers Union. “We agree with the Senate that the
NAS should take another look at the safety questions.”

During a public comment period that ended earlier this year, the FDA heard from
more than 150,000 consumers rejecting the Agency’s proposed plan to introduce
clones into the U.S. food supply. In addition, dozens of members of the meat
and dairy industries and nonprofit organizations urged the FDA to consider
comments from the widest possible sample of Americans in consideration of the
untested nature of cloning technology.

“Animal protection advocates support scientific advancement, but cloning lacks
any legitimate social value and decreases animal welfare in a dramatic way,”
said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United
States. “Today, the U.S. Senate slowed down the application of this bad idea,
and we hope the House follows its lead.”

“Polls have repeatedly shown that consumers are wary of food from cloned
animals,” said Chris Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at the
Consumer Federation of America. “We need a much more comprehensive assessment of the potential implications of allowing food from cloned animals into the food supply. The Mikulski-Specter amendment would assure that these important issues are thoroughly reviewed before FDA is allowed to issue its final risk assessment.”

Passage of this bill with the Mikulski-Specter amendment comes at a time when
the public’s opposition to food from clones has never been higher. A national
survey conducted this year by Consumers Union found that 89 percent of Americans want to see cloned foods labeled, while 69 percent said that they have concerns about cloned meat and dairy products in the food supply. A recent Gallup Poll reported that more than 60 percent of Americans believe that it is immoral to
clone animals, while the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found that a
similar percentage say that, despite FDA approval, they won’t buy milk from
cloned animals.

“The surveys show that the public is morally opposed to cloning. Animals suffer
terribly in the cloning process, and the FDA has ignored these issues,” said
Tracie Letterman, Executive Director of the American Anti-Vivisection Society.
“This amendment will allow these discussions to take place.”

“With the public increasingly concerned about the treatment of farm animals,”
said Julie Janovsky, Campaign Director for Farm Sanctuary, “the Mikulski-
Specter amendment acknowledges the fact that cloning may lead to even harsher
conditions for animals used to produce food.”

In its risk assessment of cloned food, the FDA claims to have evaluated
extensive peer reviewed safety studies to support its conclusion, yet a recent report issued by the Center for Food Safety, Not Ready for Prime Time, shows the assessment only references three peer-reviewed food safety studies, all of which
focus on the narrow issue of milk from cloned cows. What is even more
disturbing is that these studies were partially funded by the same biotech firms
that produce clones for profit. None of the studies focus on the safety of meat
from cloned cows or pigs, or milk or meat from the offspring of cloned animals,
and there was absolutely no data on milk or meat from cloned goats – all major
issues critical to determining the safety of the proposal.

View the executive summary of the Center for Food Safety’s report, Not Ready for
Prime Time

View the full report

View the Mikulski – Specter Farm Bill amendment

Contact: Joe Mendelson, Center for Food Safety, 703-244-1724; John Bianchi,
Goodman Media, 212-576-2700
Chris Waldrop, Consumer Federation of America, 202-797-8551; Julie Janovsky,
Farm Sanctuary, 301 654 2903
Michael Greger, M.D., The Humane Society of the United States, 202-676-2361;
Michael Hansen, PhD, Consumers Union, 917-774-3801.

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