Top US dairy rejects milk from clones

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dean foods Milk

Leading US dairy firm Dean Foods has said it will not accept milk
from cloned cows, adding weight to an industry and consumer move
against the technology on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dean Foods said its decision was based on the desire and expectations of its customers.

Debate surrounding the issue of cloning has gathered momentum in recent months, after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it planned to approve cloning for food production later this year.

Days later the issue spread to Europe, after it emerged the offspring of a cloned cow was being raised on a UK dairy farm.

Dean Foods said: "If the FDA does approve the sale of milk from cloned cows, we will work with our dairy farmers to implement protocols to ensure that the milk they supply Dean Foods does not comes from cloned cows."

"Our decision not to accept this milk is based on meeting our consumers' expectations.

We see no consumer benefit from this technology."

Dean Foods, which also owns leading organic milk firm Horizon Dairy, is joined in its views by other organic dairy companies.

Stonyfield Farms, Organic Valley and Straus Family Creamery have all pledged not to accept milk from cloned cows.

Ben & Jerry's has also firmly expressed its position against cloning.

And in a January 23 letter to its coop members, California's largest dairy processor, California Dairies, stated that it "will not accept milk from cloned cows, effective immediately."

Another California dairy, Clover Stornetta announced its ban on milk from clones early in January.

The moves have been echoed in Europe, where the European Dairy Association has distanced itself from the debate on cloning.

It told

it saw no acceptance of the technology among its consumers.

Some believe cloning may one day provide processors with better quality meat and milk, or animals with increased disease resistance, but that day is not here yet.

In the US, the fierce battle against accepting cloned products into the food chain is spearheaded by the nation's Center for Food Safety (CFS).

It filed a legal petition in October demanding a moratorium on foods produced from cloned animals and the establishment of mandatory rules for pre-market food safety and environmental review of cloned foods.

The organisation also asked FDA to request that the Department of Health and Human Services establish a federal review committee to advise FDA on the ethical issues related to cloning.

The FDA has opened a 90-day consultation period to gather feedback before deciding whether its proposals – including allowing cloned food to be sold with no special labelling – should become policy.

In December, seven Senators wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt in protest over its plan to approve food from clones.

And some states, including California and Massachusetts, are considering state bills calling for labelling of cloned food.

Indeed, last month San Francisco Senator Carole Migden introduced a bill that would require such labelling, in order to provide California residents with the option to choose what they consume if cloned products are ultimately approved for human consumption.

Another bill introduced this month by Senators Patrick Leahy and Herb Kohl, is designed to prevent milk and meat products from cloned livestock from receiving an organic label under the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP).

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