Apr 12 2005
Scientists in the US and Japan say that milk and meat from cloned cattle appears safe for human consumption.
In a pilot study it has been found that meat and dairy products from a bull and cow cloned using the "Dolly" technique met industry standards and the results suggest cloning techniques could be used to boost food production, particularly in developing countries.
Two beef and four dairy clones, all derived from a single cow and a single bull, were used in the study and scientists, led by Jerry Yang from the University of Connecticut, compared the produce with that from normal animals of similar age and breed.
They found no significant differences in their comparisons of the milk and meat but they did find higher levels of fat and fatty acids in the cloned cow meat, but these still fell within beef industry standards.
Higher levels of fat can also be seen as a desirable quality in the Japanese Black breed of bull, that was used for cloning.
The meat was analysed against more than 100 meat quality criteria, while the milk was analysed for protein, fat and other variables and the researchers say the milk results indicated that the genes of the cloned animals were functioning normally as any abnormal gene expression would be reflected by imbalances in the constituents of the milk produced.
The scientists say that the research is at an early stage but concluded that the study showed the produce to be within the range approved for human consumption and would provide guidelines for further research with larger numbers of clones from different genetic backgrounds.
Some experts have voiced concern as cloning raises animal welfare concerns, most cloned animals do not make it to term before being born, and many of those that do are born deformed. There are also worries that an apparently healthy clone may have subtle defects that might make it unsafe to eat.
Some critics say the study is too small for firm conclusions to be drawn. Animal welfare groups say that the use of cloning will lead to further intensification of farming and poorer quality food.
The study can be found in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.