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EU Safety Agency Says Cloned Meat May Not Be Safe

1. Safety of cloned animal products uncertain: EU agency
2. EU food safety experts say NO to cloned meat

EXTRACTS: "There are possible concerns ... there is an impact of animal health and welfare on food safety. We need more data." - Dr. Dan Collins, EFSA (ITEM 1)

"We know cloning is responsible for huge amounts of animal suffering. With every successful birth, we know there is at least one other animal that did not make it... Many either die before they are born or soon after because of organ failure. It is time for Britain and the European Commission to take a strong stance to keep clones and their offspring out of the food supply." - Joyce D'Silva, CiWF
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1. Safety of cloned animal products uncertain: EU agency
By Darren Ennis REUTERS, JulY 24 2008 http://in.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idINL2310023020080724?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's top food safety agency said on Thursday cloned animal products may not be safe and further study was needed.

"It is clear there are significant animal health and welfare issues for surrogate mothers and clones that can be more frequent and severe than for conventionally bred animals," Vittorio Silano, chair of EFSA's Scientific Committee, told reporters.

"For cattle and pigs, food safety concerns are considered unlikely. But we must acknowledge that the evidence base is still small. We would like to have a broader data base and we need further clarification."

"That has been one of the challenges throughout this work," he added.

In its initial response to the issue of cloning -- which many consumer and religious groups strongly oppose -- EFSA said in January that cloned animals could be safe to eat. It also said it saw "no environmental impact from animal cloning".

But when asked if cloned products such as meat and dairy would be safe for people to buy in European supermarkets, Dr. Dan Collins of EFSA said: "There are possible concerns ... there is an impact of animal health and welfare on food safety. We need more data."

INVESTIGATION REQUESTED

In March 2007, the European Commission -- the EU's executive arm -- asked the Bologna-based food agency to investigate the merits of cloning -- which takes cells from an adult and fuses them with others before implanting them in a surrogate mother

The move by Brussels was prompted after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave its backing to meat and milk products from cloned cattle, pigs and goats.

Hundreds of animals have been cloned mainly in the United States, while Britain and Germany are leading the push to allow cloned products to be sold in the EU and London has already confirmed that it has imported a cloned offspring.

Advocates of livestock cloning say the technology will help produce more milk and lean, tender meat by creating more disease-resistant animals. They insist it is perfectly safe.

But opponents say scientists don't know its effects on nutrition and biology.

With or without EFSA's backing, the EU executive says consumers will need to be convinced and intends to carry out an EU-wide consumer survey on the issue in September.

More than half of shoppers in a recent survey by the International Food Information Council said they were unlikely to buy food made from cloned animals.

The largest U.S. dairy producer and distributor, Dean Foods, said last month that it would not sell milk from cloned animals due to consumer concerns.
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2. EU food safety experts say NO to cloned meat
By Sean Poulter Daily Mail, 24 July 2008 http://www.dailymail.co.uk:80/news/worldnews/article-1038170/EU-food-safety-experts-say-NO-cloned-meat.html

Selling meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring is expected to be rejected by EU watchdogs today.

Experts at the European Food Safety Authority are understood to have raised serious questions about animal welfare and food safety.

The conclusions represent a major U-turn for an organisation which initially supported clone farming in a draft report earlier this year.

The authority's investigation followed a Daily Mail report in January 2007 that the offspring of cloned milking cows had been born on a UK farm.

Last month, this newspaper also revealed that eight 'clone farm' calves have been born in Britain over the past 18 months. Frozen embryos taken from the clones of prizewinning Holstein cows in the U.S. were flown to the UK and implanted into farm animals.

One source close to the European Commission investigation explained the expected Uturn, saying: 'EFSA says it has increased concerns regarding animal welfare and possible-concerns regarding food safety due to the limited data available.'

Animal welfare campaigners welcomed the change of view and called on the Government to take action to keep food from clones and their offspring off dinner plates.

The RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming are among a number of groups opposed to animal cloning for food.

Joyce D'Silva of CiWF said: 'We know cloning is responsible for huge amounts of animal suffering. With every successful birth, we know there is at least one other animal that did not make it.

'Many either die before they are born or soon after because of organ failure. It is time for Britain and the European Commission to take a strong stance to keep clones and their offspring out of the food supply.'

The food and farming department, DEFRA, has refused so far to ensure products do not reach consumers.

A study published by the Food Standards Agency last month flagged up widespread opposition to clone farming and food.

The research found that the more consumers learned about cloning, the greater and more widespread were the objections.

Steve Griggs, who led the project, said: 'The majority of people came to the conclusion that they would not want to eat such food. There was a strong sense from the public that this represents a quantum leap.

'They struggled to identify any convincing benefits for them as consumers.'

On the issue of food, Dr Griggs said opinions were strongly affected by the scandal over human BSE and the attempted introduction of GM products without proper checks and consultation.