Editor's Comment

20 August, 2010
Cloned or not cloned... let's have a little clarity

When it comes to the cloned (or not cloned, depending on whether you are a UK or EU regulator) animals fiasco, I think it would be fair to say the UK meat industry appears to have dodged a bullet.

Despite hysterical headlines in the likes of the Daily Mail, which appear to be designed to try and spark a consumer food scare, most consumers appear to have shrugged off the whole issue. Of course, that hasn't been helped by the Food Standards Agency's (FSA) position, which, in total contrast to its European cousins, appears to have simply poured fuel on the fire.

The reaction by Belgian food safety bosses, and the European Food Safety Authority, was simple and effective. This is not an issue, they said. The animals are not clones and should not be considered clones. Meanwhile, the reaction by the FSA was to launch an investigation and make an issue of the situation, maintaining that the offspring of cloned animals, some two or three generations removed, remained a "novel food" and needed to be approved for sale.

The agency even "reminded" industry of its responsibility to adhere to law yet most people in the industry remain confused as to what exactly the law is, given the contrary reports coming out of the various food safety experts.

Calls for clarity are coming from all sectors, and I would urge the FSA to reconsider its position based on its much-lauded policy of science-based decision making which, in this case, appears to have been replaced by kneejerk headline-driven tail-chasing.

Meanwhile, concern is rising over the wheat price situation, with many in the industry warning of price pressures ahead. We often talk about supply chain collaboration, and when it comes to difficulties such as those the industry now faces, that has never been more important. Retailers, and ultimately consumers, are part of that supply chain, and all need to work together to ensure the burden of cost increases is shared evenly.





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