More than 850 organic dairy farmers came out strongly against the use of cloned animals and their offspring in organic livestock farming.
They issued a number of statements just a week before the National Organic Standards Board - the citizen advisory panel to the USDA's organic program - takes up the issue in a hearing. The Food and Drug Administration late last year issued an opionion that is expected to lead to the approval of cloned animals in the food supply as soon as this year.
The livestock committee of the NOSB recently recommended a ban on clones, but left open the issue of whether progency should be banned as well. (See our previous post for background on the issue).
"...it is imperative that progeny of clones be unequivocally disallowed as well as clones," the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Association said. "This is not a question to be taken up when the need arises in the future—the need is here now. Cloned bulls are in existence whose semen is destined for the artificial insemination market should the ban on cloning be lifted."
The main way cloned animals are expected to come into the food supply, is through progeny rather than through cloned animals themselves. FOOD Farmers, the group that includes NODPA and the Western and Midwest Organic Dairy Producers Alliances, said:
It does not matter that there is no test to determine whether an animal is derived from cloning or not. The National Organic Program is a process based program, not a test based program. As with field histories, purchased feeds, etc., we producers have to verify through our recordkeeping, affidavits, and paper trail that the organic standards process has been followed. So too will it be necessary to document that no cloned livestock or progeny are brought into a herd of organic livestock or transitioned to organic production. If the necessary documentation is not available on animals, then they will not be able to be considered for organic production.
The individual farms sell to Horizon Organic, Organic Valley, Stonyfield Farms, Humboldt Dairy, as well as through smaller cooperatives including Upstate Farms Cooperative, Organic Choice and LOFCO, independent manufacturers and direct to the consumer.
They issued statements Friday, the day comment was due at the USDA.