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Britain’s DEFRA Ok’s Milk And Meat From Cloned Cows

February 24, 2011

Britain’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), has signed off on allowing milk and meat from the offspring of cloned animals to go on sale, The Telegraph reports.

The comments are a clear signal that the Government will give the official green light to farmers and food companies who want to supply butchers and supermarkets with the controversial products.

Campaigners for animal welfare expressed that they are “utterly dismayed” by the ministerial statement, claiming cloning of farm animals will increase with consumers unable to know if they were eating meat from a cloned animal or not.

Jim Paice, the food and farming minister, made the statement in response to a written question from Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP. Currently the Food Standards Agency (FSA) believes that any food company attempting to sell food from not just a cloned animal ““ but crucially, also the offspring of a cloned animal ““ needs to apply for a so-called “novel food” license.

The Europe Commission interpreted the current food legislation differently from the FSA according to Mr. Paice; the Commission believes the rules apply not their offspring, only to the food from cloned animals. He added: “For the future, the Government shares the Commission’s view that there should be no restrictions on the use of offspring of cloned animals.”

This comment is the most direct made by a minister about cloning since the discovery that cloned meat had unwittingly entered the food chain triggering a debate into the ethics of cloning animals. Animal welfare campaigners have said that cloned animals suffer far more than standard animals.

Mr. Paice’s comments suggested that the Government believed it would support any farmer selling milk or meat from a cloned animal and that there was no need for them to receive any license and a statement from the FSA. And at the end of last year said it could find no scientific evidence that cloned meat or milk could not be eaten safely. The FSA is expected to release a final report to the Government in the next few weeks.

Head of policy at the Soil Association, Emma Hockridge, tells The Telegraph: “It is unacceptable that the Government has come to this conclusion without adequate evidence. The impact of cloned foodstuffs on human health cannot at this point be adequately assessed on the basis of existing scientific data. At a time when Government is expressing a desire to move towards “Ëœhonest labeling’ of food, so consumers understand what they are purchasing and know its provenance, cloned animals and their offspring should not be allowed to enter the food chain.”

Cloning Agricultural specialists explain, is no more than a natural extension of embryo splitting and artificial insemination, long-established farming techniques.

The farmer, at the center of last year’s uproar, was cheered by the ministerial statement and owns 90 heifers, which are the second-generation offspring of a cloned cow. They are one-and-a-half years old and not yet ready to produce milk, but he said he wanted to be able to sell that milk when the time came.

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