WASHINGTON, DC, October 9, 2002 (ENS) - Citing animal
welfare concerns, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
have asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to block sales
of products from cloned farm animals, their byproducts and offspring.
In a letter sent today to the director of the FDA's Center for
Veterinary Medicine, the HSUS noted that a recent National
Academy of Sciences review found adverse impacts on animal
welfare in the cloning of farm animals.
The animal welfare group says cloning can involve intrusive and
sometimes painful reproductive manipulations. Surgery is used, for
instance, to remove eggs from female breeding stock and to implant
embryos to produce transgenic and cloned animals. The animals used
as breeding stock can be subjected to these procedures over and
Cloning also results in very high rates of fetal deaths. Health problems
in those who survive to birth include respiratory distress, pneumonia,
lethargy, cardiomyopathy and metabolic problems.
Abnormalities such as brain lesions, skeletal malformations and
incomplete development of the vascular tract are also often seen in
cloned animals. Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal, suffers
from severe arthritis, the HSUS said.
Cloned cattle and sheep have higher than average birth weights,
requiring caesarean deliveries which may be repeated on the same
Dr. Michael Appleby, HSUS vice president for farm animals and
sustainable agriculture, said that the artificial selection for particular
qualities that is current practice in modern agriculture has already led
to production related disorders such as crippling and high disease
vulnerability, a problem that will worsen if cloning becomes common.
"A single pathogen could wipe out countless numbers of genetically
identical animals, putting animal safety and the world's food supply at
risk," said Appleby. "Already animals are suffering from maladies at a
rate unheard of before we applied biotechnology to the barnyard. It
would be disastrously premature to put this technology into
In the letter to Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA Center for
Veterinary Medicine, Appleby also raised concerns about the impact
of cloning on the small family farmer.
"This expensive technology will benefit only biotech companies and
large agribusinesses," Appleby wrote. "This will exacerbate the
ongoing trend in agriculture today of the loss of small family farms
which are often more humane and ecologically sustainable."
To date, the FDA has asked producers to hold off on selling such
products even though no current federal law or regulation prohibits
such sales. The HSUS praised the agency for the precautionary
approach it has taken so far.
"We commend the FDA for its actions in commissioning the National
Academy of Sciences report and requesting that food from cloned
animals not enter the marketplace," Appleby concluded. "These
measures show an appropriate, precautionary approach, and we
trust the FDA will further this by putting more weight on the animal
safety issues outlined in the report."