Washington, April 12 (Reuters): Meat and milk from cloned cattle are virtually identical to the same products from prize animals bred the old-fashioned way, researchers in Japan and the US reported today.
While cautioning that their study is not the definitive report on whether it is safe to eat cloned animals, the researchers said it suggested they might be.
Xiangzhong Yang of the University of Connecticut and colleagues at the National Institute of Agrobiological Science and National Institute of Animal Health in Kagoshima, Japan, cloned beef and dairy cattle and examined their meat and milk.
They compared the meat and milk from the clones to that of animals of similar age, breed and genetics bred naturally. 'We found no significant differences in the composition of milk from cloned animals compared with the comparator animals managed under the same conditions,' the researchers wrote in their report, to be published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The differences found in meat related to levels of fat and fatty acids and muscle qualities. Their analysis also suggested that the clones were healthy and normal based on examination of their chromosomes, which carry the genes, as well as development and behaviour.
In 2002 a National Academy of Sciences panel said it appeared that products from cloned animals were safe to eat but noted there had been very few studies. The US Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine has asked companies not to allow clones, their offspring, or their milk, meat or other products to enter either the human food supply.