Food from cloned animals probably safe, says EFSA

By Dominique Patton

- Last updated on GMT

Meat and dairy products from cloned animals are probably safe
for human consumption, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
concluded in a draft opinion released on Friday.

"Based on current knowledge, there is no expectation that clones or their progeny would introduce any new food safety risks compared with conventionally bred animals,"​ the preliminary report said. It said that meat and milk obtained from healthy cattle and pig clones and their offspring are "within the normal range with respect to the composition and nutritional value of similar products obtained from conventionally bred animals".​ Cloning could provide food processors with a better quality of meat and other products, such as dairy. The process uses DNA technology to produce multiple, exact copies of a single gene or other segment of DNA, creating an animal with exactly the same genetic make-up as another currently or previously existing animal. That could allow breeders to introduce strains of animals with increased disease resistance and other qualities. However consumer resistance is bound to pose a problem, given the level of high concern surrounding attempts to introduce genetically-modified foods in Europe. A 2002 EU survey found that Europeans were generally against any new foods that had been produced through new scientific advances. An independent poll in the US in 2006 also showed that 60 per cent of Americans would not knowingly eat cloned meat. The EFSA report, first commissioned in February 2007 by the European Commission, warned that the data available on safety of cloned animals is 'limited'. It noted that most studies have been of small sample size and there is little information on animals remaining alive for considerable periods of time. It is now calling for opinions from experts and the general public. The Commission has also asked for an opinion from the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies which will address ethical issues around the issue of cloning and food. This group is scheduled to issue its report on 16 January. The European Union currently has no laws regulating animal cloning and food derived from cloned animals. It could introduce legislation if the opinion deems necessary. Cloning came to global attention in 1996 when Dolly, a sheep, became the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell. She died after six years. Some people are now hoping that EFSA's opinion will influence other countries currently considering allowing food from cloned animals such as the US. However industry group of US dairy makers, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), said in a statement: "IDFA continues to call for a more thorough and deliberative dialogue at all levels on animal cloning - one that takes into account the unintended negative economic, trade and public health impacts of approving a niche technology too soon." ​ Comments on EFSA's opinion can be submitted until 25 February 2008 via the organisation's website​.

Related topics: Industry news

Related news

Show more