Meat from cloned animals safe, says Japanese panel on food safety

Source of Article:

By The Yomiuri Shimbun / McClatchy Newspapers
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TOKYO - A Japanese government panel on food safety on Tuesday approved a draft report that concluded meat from cloned cattle and pigs is as safe as that from animals born through conventional reproduction techniques.

A working group of the Food Safety Commission will formally approve the report in March and submit the final report to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry after inviting public opinions.

The ministry and the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry will then discuss whether to approve the commercial distribution of meat from cloned animals.

Cloned cattle and pigs are produced from somatic cells of the animalsí skin, fallopian tubes and other parts.

However, the combined fetal death rate and mortality rate of the cloned animals is 31 percent - five times higher than that of animals reproduced with conventional artificial techniques, such as artificial insemination. This figure has raised concern over the safety of the meat.

However, the draft report concluded the high rates were a result of the quality of cloning technologies, which are still under development. "The animals grow up normally and healthy after they survive beyond six months," the report said.

The cloned animals have genetic information identical to ordinary cattle and pigs, and the nutrition content and allergenic potency of their meat and milk also are the same, according to the draft report.

The report concluded there is no major difference between the safety of meat from the cloned animals and that of those produced through conventional reproduction technologies.

The report also said offspring of the cloned animals are safe to eat.

Five hundred and fifty-seven head of cloned cattle and 335 cloned pigs had been produced in the country as of the end of September.

However, the agriculture ministry has asked producers not to ship meat from cloned cattle and pigs to the market for human consumption.

Animals are not cloned for commercial purposes in North America and Europe, so no meat from cloned animals is imported to or sold in Japan.



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