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Are Clones Safe to Eat?

The FDA has officially announced that cloned animals are safe to eat, but says that products made from genetically-modified animals could be unsafe. They are currently deciding whether to allow the sale of genetically-modified milk. The FDA is worried about how, when and where inserted genes will turn themselves on. New genes inserted into the DNA of genetically-modified animals make proteins which are not normally present in the human diet, and these could produce allergic reactions, or even be poisonous.

Over 2,000 Holstein cattle have been cloned since the 1980s, using older methods, such as embryo splitting and blastomere nuclear transfer (BNT), and the FDA feels these animals are safe to eat. But animals like Dolly the Sheep, that have been cloned using new techniques, have not been around long enough to be considered safe for consumption.

There are currently about six companies in the world producing farm animals by cloning or genetic engineering. The main worry is the potential spread of GM genes into the wild. Fish, especially, can be a problem, since it?s easy for farmed fish to escape into rivers or oceans. If they are bigger or stronger than wild fish, their genes will take over, spreading through the fish population.

The biotechnology industry thinks GM animals will be an improvement on native species. "You could make animals with less fatty meat, or more nutritious milk," says biotechnologist Lisa Dry. "Or they could be more resistant to diseases, which could make them safer for humans to eat."

Some cloned animals, including cattle, have health problems when they?re born, with some calves growing so big they cannot be born naturally. Dr. Sue Mayer of GeneWatch says, "We're deeply concerned that anyone is thinking of producing farm animals by such techniques. There are much better ways of solving the world's agricultural problems."

Is that a clone on your dinner plate? Find out what you?re eating from ?Eating in the Dark? by Kathleen Hart,click here.

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