by Vicky Uhland
In a gesture that organizers hope will end the cloned foods controversy, 20 American food companies and retailers have stated they will not use cloned animals in their products.
Nonprofit activist organizations the Center for Food Safety and Friends of the Earth announced Sept. 3 that manufacturing behemoths Kraft Foods, General Mills, Nestlé and Campbell Soup Co. have pledged to avoid cloned animal ingredients.
Ben & Jerry's, Amy's Kitchen, the Hain Celestial Group, Clover-Stornetta Farms, Oberweis Dairy, Prairie Farms Dairy, Plainview Dairy and Gossner Foods have taken the pledge one step further, announcing they won't use products from clones or their offspring.
Retailers that have agreed to the noncloning pledge include Albertsons, SuperValu and Harris Teeter. Washington-based PCC Natural Markets, the first retailer or manufacturer to sign the pledge, also won't allow products from cloned offspring in its stores.
But despite these companies' good intentions, "there is truly no way to be 100 percent sure" they're not using ingredients from cloned animals or their offspring, said Gillian Madill, a genetic technologies campaigner with Friends of the Earth. Because the U.S. Food and Drug administration allows cloned-animal ingredients, and its animal tracking system ends at the slaughterhouse, it's difficult for companies or retailers to follow an animal all the way through the supply chain, she said.
As a result, Madill said the goal of the FOE/CFS cloned food initiative is to "try to destroy the market before it exists. We don't want to get into a situation like [genetically modified organisms], where they were out there before anyone could stop them becoming a full-scale process."
If enough companies sign up for the anti-clone pledge, the groundswell will hopefully "prevent the undesirable production and use of this technology," Madill said. Added Lisa Bunin, campaigns coordinator for CFS: "This rejection of food from clones sends a strong message to biotech firms that their products may not find a market."
Madill said FOE and CFS are working to create an online registry to show the status of companies and retailers that have either been asked to sign the noncloning pledge or are in the process of doing so. That registry will hopefully be available in the next month, she said. In the meantime, retailers and manufacturers can sign up at www.foe.org or www.centerforfoodsafety.org.
Other food producers that have agreed not to use cloned animals in their products include Smithfield Foods, California Pizza Kitchen restaurants, Cloverland Green Spring Dairy and Byrne Dairy.