the FDA is downplaying the long-term impact of cloned animals in the food supply. Christopher Doering of Reuters reports:Despite giving people a serious case of the willies—myself included—
Meat and milk products of offspring from the 600 cloned animals in the United States most likely have not entered the nation's food supply, an official with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday, as the agency downplayed the long-term impact of cloning.Yeah, that sure gives me that “rest-assured feeling.” Sheesh! Well, at least here the FDA is behaving a little smarter. They’re planning to post overseas food inspectors. The New York Times is on it:
The FDA last week said meat and milk from cloned cattle, swine and goats and their offspring were as safe to eat as products obtained from traditional animals. Before then, farmers and ranchers had followed a voluntary moratorium that prevented the sale of clones and their offspring.
"There is no feeling that this will ever become a way of mass producing animals," Stephen Sundlof, director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied nutrition, told reporters.
He noted that another reproductive technique used in agriculture, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer, has been used to create only a small portion of the millions of animals on U.S. farms.
The agency’s commissioner, Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, said that he wanted to have “boots on the ground” in nations like India and China and regions like Central and South America and the Middle East.This presents an interesting little debacle; one flaky response and one stringent. Okay, lets consider it a wash—what else you got FDA?
The agency already sends inspectors to dozens of countries each year to inspect pharmaceutical plants and clinical trial sites. But Dr. von Eschenbach said in a briefing with reporters that he wanted the agency’s presence abroad to be on an “ongoing and continuous basis rather than episodic and periodic.”
“Right now, we come, we leave,” he said.
The inspectors would primarily “build capacity and bring others in to do inspections that are certified,” Dr. von Eschenbach said.
The agency has long helped to train foreign food and drug inspectors and even advise in the writing of legislation to empower foreign versions of the F.D.A.
As recently as 1996 in Canada and 1999 in Australia, health regulators did not have the authority to inspect clinical trial sites, said Dr. David Lepay, a senior adviser for clinical science at the agency.