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Ruling on cloned animals won't assist area farmer

December 29, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WILLIAMSPORT - A decision by the Food and Drug Administration that food from cloned animals is safe to eat likely won't help Williamsport farmer Greg Wiles' financial issues.

"Is it going to help me? No, it's not," Wiles said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Final approval from the federal government will take months or longer, and a voluntary ban on selling cloned animals for human consumption will remain in place, he said.

Wiles, who is facing eviction from his father's 200-acre farm, said Washington County Circuit Court could order him off the property on Jan. 9.

The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Wiles hasn't paid rent in months.

Wiles is trying to find a home for his two cloned cows before Jan. 9 so his animals can be cared for and kept out of the food chain, he said Thursday. If not, Wiles likely will have to break the ban and sell the cows for food, he said. The federal government has no way to stop a farmer from selling meat or milk from cloned animals, the AP has reported.

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Wiles would rather the animals not be killed for food. He has doubts about whether food from cloned animals is safe.

Wiles doesn't think the FDA thoroughly studied whether cloned livestock is safe for human consumption. He has had health problems with one of his cloned cows, which is noticeably smaller than other cows. He offered the cow to the FDA for study, but it declined, he said.

In addition to the two cloned cows, Wiles is looking for a home for more than 100 other animals, 54 of which are milk cows. Twenty-percent of the herd is from cloned animals and their offspring, he said.

Because of the voluntary ban, he has been dumping milk from cloned cows down the drain, the AP reported.

The animals are being used as security for a farm loan, which is why Wiles isn't interested in giving the animals to an animal sanctuary, he said Thursday.

"I have figured hundreds of thousands of dollars of losses at a minimum because of these clones," Wiles told the AP recently. "If I can't recoup my investment, and they're no longer productive at all, their only choice is that they go into the food supply."

Wiles said it would have been in his best interest to never have become involved with cloned cows.

The Consumer Federation of America will ask food companies and supermarkets not to sell food from clones, according to the AP.

"Meat and milk from cloned animals have no benefit for consumers, and consumers don't want them in their foods," said Carol Tucker Foreman, director of food policy at the Consumer Federation of America.

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