(Beyond Pesticides, February 26, 2007) The United States’ largest dairy company, Dean Foods, has adopted a policy statement rejecting milk from cloned cows. The decision, which joins those of the organic dairy community to reject animal cloning, reflects the publics’ demand for foods free of genetic manipulation and chemicals.
The food giant’s policy comes in the midst of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) open comment period on its evaluation of the safety of animal cloning. While FDA is expected to determine animal products from clones are as safe as those from naturally produced animals, Dean Foods’ stance is a clear message that the market is not interested in purchasing them. The statement reads:
“Based on the desire of our customers and consumers, Dean Foods will not accept milk from cows that have been cloned. 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 to Dean Foods does not come from cloned cows.
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to conclude that milk from cloned cows is safe. Our decision not to accept this milk is based on meeting our consumers’ expectations. We see no consumer benefit from this technology.
“Numerous surveys have shown that Americans are not interested in buying dairy products that contain milk from cloned cows and Dean Foods is responding to the needs of our consumers.”
Market forces aside, milk from cloned animals (as well as other animal products) has already been rejected by numerous members of the organic community. Other dairy companies have pledged not to sell milk from clones, including Stoneyfield Farms, Organic Valley, Straus Family Creamery, and Dean Foods-owned Horizon Organic. The decisive word on cloned products comes from Organic Trade Association head Caren Wilcox, who stated, “The Organic Trade Association (OTA) only supports the use of natural processes for breeding and raising animals in the organic system.” She continued, “Organic animal products will not come from cloned animals.” Organic Valley’s CEO, George Siemon, added, “This is absolutely prohibited in our world. It goes against everything we believe. Organic is based on having plenty with what nature’s given us.”
Government officials, too, are in disagreement with FDA’s findings on cloned animals. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has introduced legislation that would require labeling on packages of cloned animal products: “This product is from a cloned animal or its progeny.”
The Department of Agriculture, while it has not reached a decision on the offspring of cloned animals, says cloning is forbidden in organic animals. Yet scientists’ inability to determine whether an animal is a clone makes tracking cloned animals through the food chain extremely difficult — posing future risk and expense to farmers, organic and conventional, as they try to comply with differing standards of label disclosure.
TAKE ACTION: Tell FDA you support organic integrity and full disclosure on labels regarding cloned animals. FDA’s draft risk assessment on cloned animals has three documents open for public comment until April 2. To submit comments online, visit http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/oc/dockets/comments/commentdocket.cfm?AGENCY=FDA. Written comments may be sent to: Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD, 20852, and must include docket number 2003N-0573.