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.

Readers' comments (11)

  • They quote "...there are no food safety grounds for regulating foods from the descendants of cloned cattle and pigs." However, how can there be evidence? The process is not mature enough and data has not yet been gathered. The normal scientific method would suggest we wait until sufficient data has been collected to make an informed decision, not take an unnecessary risk with the health of un unsuspecting nation.

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  • This is a Panorama episode waiting to happen.

    Why does BSE spring to mind? Thats right because we were all eating it before we knew about about it

    How mind bogglingly short sighted, its still a new science. Its still unproven-

    Would you want to feed your baby milk from a cloned cow?

    Would you at least like the to know and have a a choice?

    Scary stuff

    Don't buy cloned goods-except you wont know if you are or not-arhhhh-the worlds gone mad!

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  • Only 165 people have died over 14 years with vCJD Bloke. It was just a political disease, real cause still unproven. . 2million die from TB EVERY year (about a third from M.bovis). . 'Priorities' come to mind. . A clone and the produce from a clone are genetically and chemically indistinguishable from any other. . It's an identical twin. It's the process of cloning that is questionable because they produce so many imperfect specimens before they get a perfect one. (is my understanding). . I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm mistaken.

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  • Thats probably not much consolation for the 165 who are dead.

    I think cloned food and by products must be labelled. And then if you want to drink cloned milk its your choice

    Except Im not sure anyone would which is probably why its not being out on labels.

    Genetically they might well be identical but nothing can be 100% identical , even a machine can't produce 100% identical results-its might need a microscope to prove but it is true and the long term data just is not there.

    Ultimately it seems needless when we have livestock in an abundance.

    Medical cloning-such as growing limbs, hearts Im all for but cloning livestock-can anyone explain why it is still done-is there a market for it? Enlighten me

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  • "Genetically they might well be identical but nothing can be 100% identical." . That's probably a contradiction Bloke. . If the DNA is identical, you won't see anything else under a microscope. . I suspect there are no distinguishing 'markers' which is why they have had to accept the situation. . I expect they have already consulted the experts. . Obviously they must feel if you can replicate a perfect specimen, together with genetic engineering they can massively speed up evolution. . I really don't know, but the planet is rapidly getting overcrowded, so the world is heading for catastrophe sometime in the future. . This is where 'Is there really God?' starts to come into it. . We need to hope there is I think. . I'm 'out' Bloke. . Best Charles

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  • Yes- it does look like a contradiction reading it back.

    However that is my point-even thought he genetics are identical the creatures will grow up with something slightly different-be it just a pin drop of colour under it's eye which the original did not have.

    Does it matter? Well as it is unpredicted then maybe.

    There are two points to look at Charles. I will call them Technical and Real World.

    A computer program can be duplicated 1000 times and it is about 99%(technical) identical, however when used into the real world (on a computer) do they all run identical?

    Nope even if they are run on identical machines-some software will crash in a certain place whilst others will not for no reason we can fathom.

    A cutting machine will press a 1000 copies, however they look identical to us but they can't be unless all the original material cut is identical and the blade does'nt loose any sharpness or mass.
    We are taking minuscule on a scale but it is there.

    Actually that is Chaos Theory is 'nt it?

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  • Actually I think you are both right in a way. DNA can be replicated, and as such it is identicle, but it is also a very long, fragile protein structure that deteriates with age.

    As Bloke points out, you can't endlessly replicate anything without its eventual break down.

    The question that remains to be answered in my mind, is what will the result be if we keep trying to do this? That is why Charles, there are so many clones that get rejected, I think.

    Yes TB is a bigger problem. Which brings me to the real question, why we need to do this. I can see for example that having bred a high class individual there is a need to reproduce it in numbers quickly and traditional techniques such as inbreeding, and line breeding have severe limitations. But cloning would give you the chance to make a lot of money in a short space of time, but is that necessarily a good thing? Yes if its you making the money....

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  • I agree with Newt, except for a few cases I see no real reason for it. However, it should be bourne in mind that much of our commercial fruit and veg originates from clones. bananas being the prime example, however, anytime anyone takes a cutting, it is a clone. In the past 20 years between72% and 100% of commercially sold bananas were cloned*.

    *source - grovebiol.co.uk

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  • Well this is interesting. . What have I started?. Of course two identically cloned offspring will develop differently, depending upon their environment, feeding and 'upbringing' etc. .We all know that animals react well to good husbandry and conditions and badly when they have a harsh environment. . Of course I don't think this is what Bloke is concerned about. . He's thinking about what we are eating. . I have to say I think his fears are totally unfounded. . And I am not a fan of genetically modified crops, because we don't ever know how nature will deal with these newly modified pollens; they can be 'mating' with any pistil that accepts them. . Oh sorry, didn't mean to offend; I forgot it was Sunday.

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  • With respect Charles, that's not quite what Bloke and I mean. Well I don't anyway. The DNA molecule is in itself slightly unstable with age (aren't we all?) the more that you replicate it, the more that it can mutate.

    Bacteria that reproduce asexually for example...

    I wasn't talking abut differences in nutrture, more differences in DNA.

    All of which is a bit self defeating really, because the whole point of cloning is that we avoid that whole mixing of DNA that brings diversity far quicker.

    I don't know, I'm just uncomfortable with what I don't know, it is probably going to be a very important science, I would just prefer it to go a bit slower so that I can be gone before it all goes wrong!

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