HIV is committed to providing the public and the press with timely and accurate information about animal cloning that is backed by rigorous scientific research.

The website is sponsored by Bovance, Cyagra, stART Licensing, Trans Ova Genetics, and ViaGen, Inc., the world’s premier animal cloning and livestock genetics companies, in cooperation with the Biotechnology Industry Organization and leading scientists.

Cyagra, Trans Ova Genetics and ViaGen scientists have cloned more species and a greater total number of animals than any other companies or academic institutions. Their staff scientists include the global leaders in animal cloning and work with the top researchers worldwide. stART Licensing, a joint venture of Exeter Life Sciences and Geron, Inc., owns the rights to the
intellectual property used to clone Dolly, the world’s first cloned mammal, and subsequent improvements.

So here’s the thing about meat from cloned animals, which the FDA recently approved for sale and general consumption: It’s identical to ordinary meat. That’s the whole deal with cloning, see. If it’s not exactly the same, then it’s not a clone.

With wearying inevitability, a movement has sprung up in the wake of the FDA’s decision. They demand labeling and/or bans of cloned meat and milk on the state level. Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director of the Center for Food Safety, offers a perfect distillation the argument. “Since FDA refuses to wait for science to show what’s really happening with cloned animals, it is now up to individual states to protect consumers and their families.”

She wants proof that there is no possible harm from consumption of cloned meat. It is, of course, darned tough to prove a negative like this one.

The word clone has all kinds of scary connotations, which is most of the reason for the hoopla. America has been chowing down on modified corn and soybeans for years now to no ill effect. And those products are tweaked from their natural state–clones are just duplicated, which should make them even less threatening than their genetically-modified counterparts.

There are concerns that cloned meat could infiltrate the food supply in places that are less clone-friendly, like Europe, without anyone knowing. Testing, of course, would be impossible, since cloned meat is identical to non-cloned.

And so, the inevitable question: If it’s impossible to tell the difference between the meat of cloned cows and the meat of conventionally bred cows by any known means in a lab, then why should state governments force producers to make two steaks from literally identical cows bear different labels, one implying risk to the consumer?

The Washington Post is reporting that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 968-page report will declare that meat and milk from cloned cows, pigs and goats are as safe to eat as foods from conventionally bred animals. According to the Post:

Scientists … looked at nutrient levels in meat and milk from a few dozen cattle and pig clones and hundreds of their progeny, and compared them with values from conventional animals. They measured vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6 and B12 as well as niacin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, 12 kinds of fatty acids, cholesterol, fat, protein, amino acids and carbohydrates including lactose.

For almost every measure, the values were virtually the same. The few that differed were still within the range considered normal.

Separately, the agency looked at studies in which milk and meat from clones were fed to animals for up to 3 1/2 months. There was no evidence of health effects, allergic reactions or behavioral changes.

Let’s not forget that we have been eating clones for generations. Lots of fruits are clones, including grapes, bananas, and some varieties of apples.

The FDA may allow food produers to label their products as deriving from non-clones. Since at least some meats will derive from elite meat-producing animals, I personally will seek out cloned steaks when they become available.

The International Herald Tribune is reporting that European Food Safety Agency will approve meat and milk from cloned animals as safe to eat, too. This is good news for science-based decision-making, given that Europeans have often been ridiculously risk-averse when it comes to the food products derived from modern biotechnology.