After a recent discussion on the pros and cons of cloned food consumption, a panel of Japanese experts has concluded that eating cloned animals may be no different from consumption of conventionally bred livestock. This may bring Japan closer to ending its long-standing ban on food products from cloned animals.
"Considering the current scientific technology, I believe they (cloned animals) are the same as ordinary ones," said Takao Hayakawa, the panel's chairman.
Asked if he would eat cloned beef, he replied: "I could do that."
His panel's recommendations, which approved the safety of food from cloned livestock, will be studied further by another panel of experts before being submitted to the Food Safety Commission.
Even if the commission gives the green light for cloned foods to be served at home and restaurants in Japan, more deliberation will be needed within government before the ban is lifted.
Food from cloned animals has faced opposition on ethical and health grounds, but a series of reports by domestic and foreign laboratories found that cloned animals are as healthy as conventionally bred ones.
In January last year, after years of research, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of food from cloned animals and their offspring.
But the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said food from cloned animal should not be sold for the time being, pending consultations on its introduction.
In July, a report by the European Food Safety Authority suggested cloning can threaten the health of livestock, but said there was "no clear evidence" that consuming meat and milk from cloned animals was a risk to humans.
In Japan, only laboratories and research institutes have cloned animals.