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FDA’s Approval of Cloned Beef for Human Consumption Ignites Debate

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved meat and milk from cloned cows as safe for human consumption. However, some observers believe the FDA's decision was hasty and more study of the issue is needed. Tom Bearden reports on the controversy.

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  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Next, cloning animals to produce meat we can eat. NewsHour correspondent Tom Bearden has our Science Unit report.

  • TOM BEARDEN, NewsHour Correspondent:

    Don Coover clones cows and is working very hard to put their offspring on supermarket shelves all over the world.

  • DR. DON COOVER, SEK Genetics:

    We're standing on the edge of a revolution in biotechnology that's going to completely transform not only the way we produce production animals, but the way humans live their lives. This is hugely advantageous down the road.

  • TOM BEARDEN:

    Coover is a veterinarian and semen dealer in eastern Kansas. He runs one of a growing number of animal genetics companies that plan on producing a lot of meat for human consumption.

    Most people remember the sheep Dolly, the first animal cloned from an adult cell back in 1996. The story faded from the front pages.

    But Coover and others in the livestock industry saw huge potential benefits for cloning other kinds of animals and began experimenting. But they knew they would need federal approval to sell cloned products to the general public.

    So, in 2001, meat producers petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to say yes. At the same time, the Department of Agriculture asked the industry to hold off putting any cloned meat products on the market during the study period.

    After seven years, the FDA finally made a decision.

    DR. STEPHEN SUNDLOF, Director, Center for Veterinary Medicine, FDA: After years of detailed study and analysis, the Food and Drug Administration has concluded that meat and milk from clones of cattle, swine, and goats, and the offspring of clones from any species traditionally consumed as food are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals.