FSA to allow food from cloned animal offspring
THE offspring of cloned animals are set to be allowed into the UK food chain, following a change of heart by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
The FSA has published a paper on cloning that will be discussed at its next board meeting on May 25 confirming that it is to change its advice to Ministers, following a public consultation on the subject.
The paper states: “FSA is minded to adopt the position taken by the European Commission and others, that food obtained from the descendants of clones of cattle and pigs does not require authorisation under the novel foods regulation.”
Until now, the agency has advised that authorisation was required from the FSA before meat or milk from a clone or its descendants could be sold to consumers. This came to prominence when the agency declared the actions of Stephen Inness ‘illegal’, after the Scottish farmer was found to have sold meat from the offspring of cloned animals into the food chain.
But after its meeting in December 2010 the Board concluded that, based on the current evidence and advice from the European Food Safety Authority and the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, there are no food safety grounds for regulating foods from the descendants of cloned cattle and pigs.
Since then, the agency has sought the views of stakeholders and will confirm to the Board on May 25 that the interpretation of the Novel Foods Regulation does not apply to the immediate offspring and further descendants of cloned cattle and pigs.
This conclusion applies specifically to the use of cloning for cattle and pigs because the use of cloning technology in other food-producing animals is currently ‘limited’.
The FSA is stressing that cloned cattle and pigs are still within the scope of the legislation. Any foods from cloned cattle or pigs would therefore require pre-market authorisation by the agency before being sold into the food chain.
The change in the Agency’s advice brings it into line with the position of the European Commission.
Farming Minister Jim Paice has already indicated the Government is unlikely to require labelling of meat and milk from cloned animals. In December, he told the EFRA committee of MPs that while the Government recognised consumer power, consumer information and the right to choose, it is not possible to detect whether meat and milk is from a cloned animal. It is therefore impossible for mandatory labelling to be implemented effectively, he said.