Cloned meat enters UK food chain via US cow
The consumer will ultimately decide whether there is a future for cloned meat and dairy in the food supply chain, according to the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).
The comments by NFU director of policy Martin Haworth come in the wake of an investigation by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) into reports that products from the offspring of cloned animals have entered the UK food chain.
The FSA has traced two bulls born in the UK from embryos harvested from a cloned cow in the US. One bull, born in December 2006, was slaughtered in July 2009 and its meat entered the food chain.
A second bull, born in March 2007, was slaughtered on 27 July 2010, but the meat was discovered before consumption.
NFU director of policy Martin Haworth said: "The scientific opinion of the European Food Safety Authority confirms that there are no food safety risks posed by the products of offspring from cloned animals.
"However, public confidence is an absolute priority for our farmer members and, as an industry, we must be guided by consumer preference.
"These preferences need to be informed by balanced, scientifically-based research and assessment, which is why we believe it is important to keep the door open on this type of technology. It may provide some consumer benefits in the future – but ultimately it is the consumer who will decide."
All cloned produce must be declared with the FSA, which liaises with EU authorities for clearance. The penalty for failing to comply is a fine of up to £5,000.