WASHINGTON: Scientists with the Food and Drug Administration spent much of yesterday making themselves available to the press in the hopes they could alleviate any fears the public may have about the declaration that meat from cloned animals is safe to eat.
Early Thursday the administration released a "draft risk assessment" which found that meat and milk from clones of adult cattle, pigs, and goats are as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals. The document does not mean the meat is now FDA approved, but does open a 90-day window for public comment before a final decision.
"I think actually using the media and then adding documents on the Web and promoting those documents is a great way to help people understand the topic," said Douglas Arbesfeld, senior communications advisor with the FDA. "The news is a way to lead them to this deeper understanding."
Arbesfeld said Stephen Sundlof, director of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, appeared on all the major television networks explaining the science behind the decision and that he would continue to defend the decision against criticism from consumer groups.
Arbesfeld said the FDA also worked with the state department on international press outreach in an attempt to educate an international audience. There have been fears that US meat exports could be affected if the FDA approves cloned meat.