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Top dairy company is sour on cloned-cow milk

February 24, 2007|From the Associated Press

Milk from cloned cows is not welcome at the nation's biggest milk company.

Although government scientists have said food products from cloned animals are safe, Dean Foods Co. of Dallas said Thursday that consumers didn't want milk from cloned animals. The $10-billion company owns Land O'Lakes and Horizon Organic, among other brands.

"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," the company said in a statement.

Federal scientists say there is virtually no difference between conventional cows, pigs or goats and their clones. The Food and Drug Administration in December gave preliminary approval to meat and milk from cloned animals, and could grant final approval by year's end.

The FDA has asked producers to voluntarily keep products from clones out of the food supply until a final ruling is made.

Dairy producers worry that concern over cloning could turn people away from dairy products. Smaller companies, such as Ben & Jerry's and Organic Valley, have said they oppose milk from clones.

Public opinion appears mixed. A September poll by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology found that 64% of respondents were uncomfortable with animal cloning. But a December poll by the University of Maryland found that the same percentage would buy or consider buying such food if the government said it was safe.

Spokeswoman Marguerite Copel said that Dean Foods respected the FDA, but that the company had a customer and consumer base to consider.

The company did not say whether it would use milk from the offspring of cloned animals. Biotechnology companies say the goal of cloning is not to create herds of identical animals for eating, but to make genetic copies of a relatively small number of superior animals and breed them to improve the food supply.

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