The decision is not likely to create a flood of cloned livestock in the short term, several analysts say. The assessment, from the US Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine, must still endure 60 days of public comment. And the FDA still must weigh issues, such as whether to label meat products from the offspring of cloned animals or track the clones themselves if they move into the food system after their usefulness as breeding stock ends. It may take a year or two after the comment period ends for breeders to start using clones.
Still, the assessment represents a significant step toward approving a technology that several specialists say will lead to more consistent, and higher quality meat and dairy products. And it is galvanizing opposition from consumer and food-safety groups. They hold that the health-risk studies fall short of what's needed to ensure that such products are safe.