There's no evidence that food from cloned livestock is unsafe for human consumption, but more research in this area is needed. That's according to a National Academy of Sciences panel that recently issued a report identifying science-based concerns about animal biotechnology. The Food and Drug Administration sponsored this report in preparing to rule on the safety of cloned cattle and other animal-biotechnology products.

The greatest concern, the panel says, is the ability of transgenic animals — especially fish and other highly mobile animals — to escape and reproduce in the natural environment.

Another moderate concern is uncertainty surrounding new proteins that are expressed when genes are inserted from another species. Though it's difficult to gauge, it is possible these proteins may trigger allergic reactions in a small percentage of people who consume meat or milk from such animals.

The panel was not asked to identify potential benefits from animal biotechnology or to make policy recommendations. However, it did suggest that tighter regulatory oversight of animal biotechnology is needed.

To read the full report online, visit the academy's Web site at www.nap.edu/books/0309084393/html/.