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Clone Labeling Debate Heats Up

A Senator introduces a bill to require labels indicating that food comes from cloned animals and questions arise about labeling cloned food as organic.

In response to the Food and Drug Administration's preliminary recommendation that food from clones and their progeny is safe for human consumption and virtually indistinguishable from food from conventionally raised livestock, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., introduced a bill Jan. 26 to require food from clones and their descendants to be labeled as such.

"I am strongly opposed to the FDA approving meat and milk products from cloned animals for human consumption," Mikulski said. "If cloned food is safe, let it onto the market, but give consumers the information they need to avoid these products if they choose to."

The bill, called the Cloned Food Labeling Act, would call for food distributors to add labels saying "This product is from a cloned animal or its progeny" on cheese, milk, meat, and other food in both stores and restaurants. A similar bill may be in the works in the House.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization is voicing opposition to Mikulski's bill, saying such labels would be misleading because food from clones is indistinguishable from food from traditionally raised livestock. BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood says in a BIO release that the bill "would mislead consumers by falsely implying differences where none exist."

Meanwhile, a Washington Post article Sunday discussed the possibility of food from cloned animals being labeled organic. The language of USDA's legal definition of "organic" leaves room for interpretation, so the issue of whether or not producers will be able to label food from clones and their progeny as "organic" will probably not be fully settled until an advisory panel discusses it, USDA officials told the Post.

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