Sunday, February 04, 2007

Is the meat from cloned animals going to be identified?

For some organic food producers, it should be. Others say no. Remember the difference between cloning and genetic modification.

For organic, some question whether clones or their offspring really go against the rules.

The Agriculture Department was asked to address cloning when the organic standards were written, a process that drew comments from more than 300,000 people and organizations. The standards, which took effect in 2002, do not mention clones or their offspring; instead, they say genetic engineering is not allowed.

That is a source of disagreement between the department and the cloning industry.

Department officials say cloning is forbidden in organic animals. The process is incompatible with the standards, says Lloyd Day, head of the Agricultural Marketing Service, which governs the organic industry. The department still must decide whether the offspring of cloned animals are allowed, Day said.

Cloning companies disagree. They note the FDA says cloning is not genetic engineering. The idea of genetic engineering is to take away or add genes, while cloning leaves the gene sequence intact.

"Our interpretation is that cloning is not excluded at this time," Glenn said.

Rather, FDA says cloning is a technology that help animals reproduce, similar to in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination. And in vitro fertilization is allowed under organic production rules.

The government has asked producers to voluntarily keep clones away from the food supply until final approval is granted.

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