Japan: Food Safety Commission says cloned meat risk-free

Source of Article:  http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20090313TDY01305.htm


The Yomiuri Shimbun

Beef and pork from cloned cows and pigs are safe for human consumption, the Food Safety Commission said in a draft report released Thursday.

Having analyzed 230 research papers published domestically and overseas, the commission concluded that cows and pigs cloned using somatic cell nuclear transfer technology are no different from non-cloned animals.

The commission's report says:

-- The genes of cloned animals are identical to those of normal domestic animals, and meat from cloned animals does not include any new substances.

-- Meat and milk from cloned cows are no different to that of ordinary cows.

The commission plans to hold discussions with the public later this month in Tokyo and Osaka.

It also is inviting the public to submit opinions via its Web site through April 10. It will then submit its final report to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, which originally contacted the commission.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry was tasked with deciding whether to approve the commercial distribution of meat from cloned animals and if so, how to label it.

But due to high costs, it likely will be a long time before meat from cloned animals hits supermarket shelves.

While the report acknowledged that fetal death and mortality rates among cloned animals are much higher than non-cloned animals, it said this was because cloned animals with problems tended to die early.

Six months after birth, the report said, cloned animals are "as healthy as ordinary livestock." It also said "there is no difference" between cloned animals' offspring and ordinary domestic animals.

Authorities in the United States and Europe reached similar conclusions last year.

Even though these countries have not marketed meat from cloned animals, once it becomes commercially available overseas, it might be imported to Japan. This is one of the reasons the health ministry was keen to expedite its safety evaluation.

(Mar. 13, 2009)



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