The government believes "meat and milk from cattle, swine and goat clones is as safe to eat as the food we eat every day," said Stephen F. Sundlof, director of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine. Meat and milk from the offspring of clones is also safe, the agency concluded.Given the FDA's conclusion, there is no legal basis to require the labeling of products from cloned animals, but this does not mean we won't soon see "clone-free" labels.
If consumers truly care about whether the milk or meat they consume was produced, producers will have an incentive to respond by offering "clone-free" meat and dairy products, and labeling them accordingly. At least one producer, Ben & Jerry's, plans to do just that. The Vermont ice-cream makers already advertise that they do not use milk from cows treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). Even though the use of rBGH has no effect on the milk cows produce, this may influence some consumers (though I suspect the high-milk-fat content is the real basis for Ben & Jerry's' popularity).
The legal standard the FDA uses in determining whether it has the authority to mandate labels is the right one, in my view. If the use of a biotech production method, whether the application of an engineered hormone or the cloning of animal stock, does not result in a difference in the product itself, there is no reasonable basis for mandating that the product be labeled, irrespective of consumer preferences. The range of production methods that are of potential interest to consumers is limitless. In these contexts, what information consumers want should be revealed through the interplay of consumer and producer behavior in the marketplace. In the end, perhaps most clone-derived products will be labeled. If so, it should be due to consumer demand, not government mandate.