With the billions of dollars potentially at stake for technology transfer and licensing fees, companies involved in cloning dairy cattle are anxiously awaiting a critical decision from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
By autumn, the FDA is supposed to decide if food products from cloned animals are safe for human consumption. The ruling will apply to milk and meat.
The National Academy of Sciences, conducting studies for the FDA, is examining clone-derived products and animal-biotechnology issues such as genetic engineering for fish and poultry. Besides basic safety issues, FDA officials have said they also are concerned about the welfare of cloned animals.
Hoping to produce more food faster, scientists around the world are working on numerous cloning and genetic engineering projects. Researchers are supplying salmon with extra genes to make them grow bigger and faster; others are using similar techniques to grow juicier chickens and fatter pigs.
In DeForest, Wis., the biotechnology company Infigen has 170 cloned dairy cows, but the milk they produce is sent down the drain. Company officials say cloning is no different than picking out the best animal in a herd to use for breeding.
The process, however, is far from perfected. Researchers report that for every healthy clone born there are hundreds of miscarriages and defective births.
But the low success rate isn't deterring researchers. In a Business Week article, Michael West, founder of Advanced Cell Technology, a leader in cloning research, said the potential market for animal cloning is $10 billion per year.
"The market is absolutely huge . . . [it's] limited only by human imagination," West said.
According to news reports, industry officials expect approval from the FDA.
Soy Says No To Pain
When it comes to soy health benefits, the hits just keep on coming. And the latest findings may someday prove to be good news for cancer patients.
New research shows that soy might help reduce pain. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University experimented with rats that have chronic pain as a result of inflammation. Of the 20 rats used in the experiment, 10 were fed a diet based on soy protein. The researchers found that those rats were more tolerant of painful heat stimuli and had less swelling in their paws where the inflammation was induced. The other 10 rats were fed casein, a milk protein.
Scientists are enthused about the findings because it could help them find new ways to manage pain and inflammation experienced by cancer patients.
The research, which will continue, is funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a program of the National Institutes of Health.
O.J., Tomatoes Protect Heart Health
More studies, more compelling evidence: Eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables is good for the heart. Two new studies show that orange juice and tomatoes help lower heart disease risk.
The studies show the importance of eating vitamin-rich foods, said Sydney Smith, a cardiologist and chief scientific officer of the American Heart Association.
One study, conducted at Harvard, examined the blood lycopene levels of post-menopausal women. Lycopene, the compound that makes tomatoes red, is a natural antioxidant. Researchers evaluated 483 women who had serious heart problems or died of heart disease, and 483 women who didn't have significant heart problems. Researchers measured subjects' lycopene levels when the study started in 1992. Those with the highest lycopene levels were 34 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those whose levels were lowest.
The orange juice study, funded by Tropicana, involved 24 people with fat-clogged arteries. Each of them drank two glasses of orange juice a day for six weeks. Researchers then measured the subjects' blood pressure and found that it had dropped significantly.
Scientists aren't sure what caused the drop, but speculate that vitamin C and potassium provided the positive effects.
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