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19/09/2008

Cloned meat on American dinners

More “Frankenfoods” heading toward American dinner tables

Published on 19-09-2008 Email To Friend Print Version
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/...ankenfoods.html


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a proposed legal framework which is expected to open the market to meat and milk produced from modified animals, which detractors have already termed "Frankenfood".

Such creatures, which could include new hen breeds capable of laying healthier eggs and cows that are immune to mad cow disease, have been developed already.

But producers have been discouraged from marketing their creations by the absence of clear rules governing such a controversial issue.

The government wants the guidelines to resolve questions such as as whether altered animals are safe for human consumption or whether they pose a risk to the environment.

"Genetic engineering of animals is here and has been here for some time," said Larisa Rudenko, a science policy adviser with the FDA's veterinary medicine centre.

"We intend to provide a rigorous, risk-based regulatory path for developers to follow to help ensure public health and the health of animals."

Consumer groups welcomed plans to regulate the area but were alarmed by apparent gaps in the proposals.

They pointed out that the FDA does not, for example, plan to insist that all such meat, fish and poultry be labeled as genetically-engineered.

"They are talking about pigs that are going to have mouse genes in them, and this is not going to be labeled," said Jean Halloran, director of food policy for Consumers Union. "We are close to speechless on this."

The FDA has already ruled that cloned animals - which are not the same - are safe to eat.

The agency will continue to exempt genetically-altered animals that pose little risk, such as aquarium fish that were recently changed so they would glow in the dark.

Genetically-engineered animals, which are created by the insertion of a gene from one species of animal into the DNA of another, could fulfil a similar role in food production to GM plants.

Genetic engineering is already widely used in agriculture to produce higher-yielding or disease-resistant crops. However, all sides are aware that consumers may be rather more alarmed by the idea of eating GM meat.

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