EU states agree on clone food plan
cloned animals in the EU, member states have agreed, following news
the offspring of a cloned cow was growing up in the UK.
Officials from the EU's 27 member states decided that milk and meat from cloned animals and their offspring should be considered in the same way as any other novel food.
The urgent talks took place at the European Commission's Novel Foods Working Group, after Europe was last week hauled into the cloned food debate because of news that the offspring of a cloned cow had been born on a UK farm.
"There will at some point have to be an evaluation by the European Food Safety Auhtority [on the issue of food from clones] but we are not expecting an imminent need for this," Commission spokesperson Philip Tod told DairyReporter.com.
News of the UK cow, named Dundee Paradise, came less than two weeks after authorities in the US signalled they intended to approve milk and meat from clones for human consumption.
"We will continue to monitor developments, but we recognise this technology is only emerging now and we don't expect it to become widespread for some time," said Tod.
European dairy and farming groups have reacted cautiously to the prospect of food from clones and their offspring.
"There's no reason why there should be any risk in the milk, but we're going to have to work at this and find out what the public really thinks," said Gwyn Jones, dairy board head for the UK National Farmers' Union.
Optimists speculate that animal cloning may one day be used to breed a new generation of cows resistant to diseases, able to convert food more efficiently and produce more milk.
But most in the European dairy industry believe the benefits are not yet proven and consumers are not ready to accept the products.
An indication may be drawn from the US, where a recent independent survey found 60 per cent of Americans would not knowingly eat food from cloned animals.
Recent articles in the UK mainstream media calling cloned animals 'farmyard freaks' is also reminiscent of the term 'Frankenstein foods', coined several years ago to describe genetically modified foods and blamed for helping to sway public opinion against them.