Behold the featherless chicken, created by Scientists at the genetics faculty at the Rehovot Agronomy Institute near Tel Aviv, Israel. The idea behind the development of this naked bird is that it will create a more ‘convenient’ and energy efficient chicken that can live in crowded environments like factory farms. Not growing feathers saves energy that can be used to grow meat.

Think there’s no way this sad version of a chicken could end up as your next meal? Think again. This past week the FDA opened the way for genetically engineered chickens, salmon, cows, and other fish and animals to move from the laboratory to your dinner table, unveiling an approval process that would classify the modified creatures as drugs. No labels will be required.

“There is no special labeling requirement simply because the animal itself was engineered,” says Randall Lutter, a deputy commissioner for policy.

FDA regulates GE animals under the “new animal drug” provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), FDA’s regulations for new animal drugs. Companies are not required to alert consumers when antibiotics, hormones, or other drugs are used in raising the animals.

The decision does not affect cloned animals or their offspring, which earlier this year were declared safe as a food source by the FDA.

Many experts fear that the proposed regulations do not go far enough to protect and reassure the public. In particular, they argue that the approval process would be highly secretive to protect the commercial interests of the companies involved and that the new rules do not place sufficient weight on the environmental impact of what many consider to be Frankenstein animals. Read the rest of this entry »

The Center for Food Safety and Friends of the Earth announced that 20 of America’s leading food producers and retailers have stated that they will not use cloned animals in their food.

The companies include Kraft Foods; General Mills; Gerber/Nestle; Campbell Soup Company; Gossner Foods; Smithfield Foods; Ben & Jerry’s; Amy’s Kitchen; California Pizza Kitchen restaurants; Hain Celestial; Cloverland, Oberweis, Prairie, Byrne, Plainview, and Clover-Stornetta Dairies; and grocers PCC Natural Markets, Albertsons, SUPERVALU, and Harris Teeter.

The move by these companies represents a growing industry trend of responding to consumer demand for better food safety, environmental, and animal welfare standards.

“This rejection of food from clones sends a strong message to biotech firms that their products may not find a market,” says Lisa Bunin, PhD, Campaigns Coordinator at the Center for Food Safety.

“American consumers don’t want to eat food from clones or their offspring, and these companies have realistically anticipated low market acceptance for this new and untested technology.” This sentiment is echoed by General Mills in their letter to the Center which identified “consumer acceptance” as an important consideration with respect to the potential use of ingredients from clones in their products. Read the rest of this entry »

Organic Valley, the nation’s oldest and largest cooperative of organic family farmers, strongly opposes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ruling that food from cloned animals and their offspring is safe.

“Organic Valley farmers work in harmony with nature; we don’t seek to alter it,” said George Siemon, chief executive officer for Organic Valley. “Organic Valley and its meat brand, Organic Prairie, will never allow the use of cloned animals on our farms and in our products. And, we assume the USDA will never change its organic standards to allow for cloned animals. Read the rest of this entry »

California wants to protect its consumers from the possible unknown risks of consuming food from cloned animals and their offspring by proposing a bill requiring such products to display clear and prominent labels.

The bill was brought forward by California State Senator Carol Migden after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made its controversial announcement this month saying milk and meat from cloned animals are safe for sale to the public.

“The federal agency charged with protecting our food supply has failed us,” said Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director of the Center for Food Safety. Read the rest of this entry »

Cyagra is one of three privately held biotech start-ups making clones of genetically superior livestock for thousands of dollars apiece. In the coming years, they hope the rest of the U.S. — and the world — will join them in dining on steaks, pork chops and ice cream derived from animals conceived in their laboratories.

After reviewing hundreds of scientific studies, the FDA concluded last week that food produced from clones and their progeny is as safe to eat as conventional fare. The agency cleared the way for meat and milk from the offspring of cloned cattle, pigs and goats to be sold at grocery stores and restaurants without any special labeling. Food from the clones themselves is expected to follow after a transition period of unspecified length.

Though consumers are skeptical about this new culinary era, Cyagra, ViaGen Inc. and Trans Ova Genetics are enthusiastic. Some had bet the farm on FDA approval and were struggling to survive as the final decision was delayed to address concerns of consumer groups, the public and some members of Congress.

Over the next five years, the market for cloned animals in the U.S. is expected to reach nearly $50 million annually, according to industry analysts. Read the rest of this entry »

Are you concerned about cloned food in your food supply? Are you wondering what difference you can make? Then take one minute and add your name to the petition at the Center for Food Safety.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has publicly reiterated that meat, milk and other products produced from cloned animals can not be sold as organic in the United States.

OTA issued the reassurance after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its conclusion that foods from cloned animals and their offspring are as safe as those produced from traditionally bred animals. FDA posted a risk assessment report, risk management plan and guidance for industry to outline its regulatory approach on animal cloning.

The national organic standards enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture require that organisms be developed and grown by systems that must be compatible with natural conditions and processes–including the breeding and raising of animals for meat and for dairy or other animal production. Read the rest of this entry »

The USDA yesterday asked U.S. farmers to keep their cloned animals off the market indefinitely even as FDA officials announced that food from cloned livestock is safe to eat.

Bruce I. Knight, the USDA’s undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, requested an ongoing “voluntary moratorium” (repeat voluntary, like in “voluntary recall” and “voluntary ban,” meaning “we won’t make you do it”) to buy time for “an acceptance process” that Knight said consumers in the US and abroad will need, “given the emotional nature of this issue.”

The fact that 64 percent of US consumers apparently don’t want to eat food from clones hasn’t yet dimmed the excitement (Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology survey, 2006, CNN unofficial poll this a.m.); and since the FDA won’t be requiring any special labeling for the products, maybe it never will.

Technically, many unknowing consumers may already be eating cloned food. Livestock cloning has been going on since at least 2002. In 2003, the FDA issued a voluntary ban on food products from cloned animals and their offspring until the organization could look into the safety of those products. The milk, meat and other animal products that were on store shelves before the ban were never labeled as coming from clones, and the later ban relied on voluntary self-regulation within the livestock industry. It has never actually been illegal to sell cloned animal products. Read the rest of this entry »

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a preliminary safety assessment that clears the way for marketing of meat and dairy products from cloned animals for human consumption. The assessment and the agency’s endorsement of cloned food comes despite widespread concern among scientists and food safety advocates over the safety of such products. The move to market cloned milk and meat also flies in the face of dairy and food industry concern and recent consumer opinion polls showing that most Americans do not want these experimental foods. What’s worse, FDA indicates that it will not require labeling on cloned food, so consumers will have no way to avoid these experimental foods. Read the rest of this entry »

Food from cloned animals will take longer than expected to enter our food supply, following the passage of a provision in the Senate’s Farm Bill that requires more testing. The amendment calls for a rigorous review of the human health and economic impacts of introducing cloned foods. Read the rest of this entry »