A new issue for livestock producers?

by 5m Editor
6 December 2006, at 2:20pm

US - Remember 1990 when debate over bovine growth hormone - called rBST, or Prosilac in following years - turned the dairy industry upside down? Another controversy between what animal scientists can do and what consumers will accept may be just around the corner.

After three years of study, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is about to say there's no food safety issue in eating meat or drinking milk from a cloned animal. The announcement could come this month, Barb Glenn, director of the animal agriculture section of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, told a telephone news conference last week.

Not that Glenn or other scientists think cloning will be used to directly produce meat animals or turn out milk cows. The procedure, which jumped into the public eye with the 1996 birth of Dolly the sheep, remains very expensive.

"This process is for breeding, not eating," said Blake Russell, who handles sales for Viagen, a Texas firm that did the largest experiment yet in safety of meat from cloned animals.

It's so expensive, despite advances since the Dolly birth just 10 years ago, that Blake and others know markets must be assured before any commercial breeders move into the field.

Cloning transfers genetic material; one animal is a genetic copy of another. It's a step up from embryo transplants that split one fertilized egg into several embryos, and far removed from artificial insemination commonly used in swine and dairy cattle.

Source: Capital Press

5m Editor