Organic Won't Include Food from Cloned Animals: OTA

GREENFIELD, Mass. -- The Organic Trade Association (OTA) here reiterated yesterday that meat, milk, and other food products produced from cloned animals would not be sold as organic in the United States, in the wake of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's conclusion that foods from cloned animals and their offspring are as safe as those produced from traditionally bred animals.

Also yesterday, FDA issued a risk assessment report, risk management plan, and guidance for the food industry, laying out the agency's regulatory approach on animal cloning. The national organic standards enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture require that organisms be developed and grown by systems that must be compatible with natural conditions and processes, including the breeding and raising of animals for meat, dairy, or other animal production.

"Meat and milk from cattle, swine, and goat clones are as safe as food we eat every day," FDA food safety chief Stephen Sundloff told the Associated Press. FDA has nevertheless asked animal-cloning companies to maintain a voluntary moratorium on sales to permit the marketplace to get used to the idea.

The production method of cloning is at odds with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and prohibited under National Organic Program regulations, OTA pointed out, adding that cloned animals thus can't be considered organic.

"OTA only supports the use of traditional processes for breeding and raising animals in the organic system," said OTA executive director Caren Wilcox in a statement. "The organic business community has never supported cloning animals as a part of the organic process. Organic animal products will not come from cloned animals. In the future, consumers who seek to avoid cloned meat, dairy, or other animal products should look for the organic label on products."

Among other responses from the organic products community, La Farge, Wis.-based Organic Valley Family of Farms declared yesterday that it "strongly opposes" the ruling, vowed never to use cloned animals on its farms or in its products, and urged consumers to complain to their elected representatives.

"The long-term effects of cloned animals on public health and our planet are simply not known," noted Organic Valley c.e.o. George Siemon in a statement.

Dismay at the agency's ruling isn't just among organic suppliers and retailers, however. The Iowa City, Iowa-based Natural Cooperative Grocers Association, which represents 109 natural food co-op grocers across the United States, similarly opposes the FDA assessment.

Additionally, Tyson and Hormel are among the major nonorganic food companies that have said they wouldn't use cloned animals, in response to the FDA ruling.

OTA's more than 1,650 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, and retailers.
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