Not surprisingly, European students were more concerned about cloning from an ethical or moral perspective, while American students cited food-safety concerns.
Although he cautioned that the survey results cannot be extrapolated to larger populations, Fox noted that his results suggest that “A significant number of people have concerns about cloning [which] will be very relevant if these products come to market and are labeled as such, because we would expect to see a significant number of people avoiding them.”
FDA’s careful, cautious approach
For all the hot air about cloning’s risks and rewards, even a cursory reading of FDA’s landmark approval shows that the agency was cautious and careful in evaluating both the benefits and the anxieties surrounding the technology.
On potential food-safety concerns, FDA stated that, “We do not believe that clones of non-food species present any public health concerns. Such animals do not introduce any new heritable traits into other animals, and the progeny of all clones are just as safe as products from conventionally bred animals. With respect to detecting [health-related] anomalies in clones, we note that clones will be subject to the same pre- and post-mortem inspections as conventionally bred food animals [and thus] no special post-market control points for clones are necessary.”
With regard to potential allergenic risks (a popular claim of anti-cloning groups), FDA stated that, “We found no evidence to indicate that foods from clones pose an increased allergenic risk. No novel proteins have been identified in meat or milk from clones, and studies using animal models have not indicated that the allergenic potential of meat or milk from clones is increased relative to meat or milk from conventional animals.”
As for health risks to cloned animals themselves, FDA acknowledged that concerns were raised regarding the low efficiency of the cloning process, the occasional premature deaths of clones, the impact of Large Offspring Syndrome (where the fetus grows too large) and the appearance of congenital abnormalities in clones. But the agency determined that cloning falls on a continuum of artificial reproductive technologies (including AI, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer techniques), and “the adverse outcomes associated with cloning are not unique but are also observed, at lower frequencies, with other ARTs. FDA does not regulate ARTs in livestock production, and therefore, there is no reason for FDA to impose specific restrictions on livestock cloning.”