Presence of meat from cloned offspring has intensified debate in UK

Presence of meat from cloned offspring has intensified debate in UK

Meat from the offspring of a cloned cow has entered the food chain in the UK, the Food Standards Agency has confirmed.

Meat from a three-year old bull was slaughtered, sold and eaten last year.

Another bull, born in the UK from the same cloned cow in the US was born in March 2007 and was slaughtered in July 2010. Meat from this animal has been stopped from entering the food chain.

The agency is continuing to trace the offspring of clones claimed to produce milk for the UK dairy industry. It has traced a single animal, which is believed to be part of a diary herd, but it cannot confirm that milk from this animal has entered the food chain.

The FSA confirmed that meat from cloned animals is illegal as it is a novel food. Before any novel food product can be introduced on the EU market, it must be tested for safety.

However, the European Foods Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a statement that said there were no differences in safety between food from conventional sources or cloned animals. Nevertheless, EFSA acknowledged more study was needed.

"No clear evidence has emerged to suggest any differences between food products from clones or their offspring, in terms of food safety, compared to products from conventionally bred animals. But we must acknowledge that the evidence base, while growing and showing consistent findings, is still small."

The US equivalent of the FSA, the Food and Drug Administration, gave the green light to the production and marketing of foods derived from cloned pigs, cattle and goats and their offspring back in 2008.