Cloned Animals Should NOT Be Farmed For Food, Say Consumers

By Sean Poulter

Cloned animals and their offspring should not be farmed for food according to the overwhelming majority of consumers, an EU study has revealed.

Most Britons, like their counterparts in the rest of Europe, would object to clone farming.

The issue has leapt on to the public agenda after the Daily Mail revealed that eight cattle, the offspring of a prize-winning clone milking cow in the USA, had been born on UK farms.

Currently, there are no laws to prevent meat and milk from these animals going into the food chain. Nor is there any legal requirement to label food from clone offspring.

The EU and Britain’s Food Standards Agency(FSA) are in the throes of deciding how clone farming should be policed.

A new survey of 25,000 consumers across the EU makes clear families are unhappy at this new era of ‘Frankenstein Food’ farming.

The European Commission study found 87per cent of people in the UK – 84per cent in Europe – believe we don’t know enough about the long-term health and safety effects of eating food from these animals.

The findings of the study triggered demands from animal welfare groups for the EU to impose a ban on clone farming and the imports of clone animal food from the USA and beyond.

They pointed to alarming levels of animal suffering. Many clone animals die in the womb or soon after from painful organ failure and deformities.

The vast majority of people in the UK – 75per cent – said it was important to take ethics into account when deciding whether to proceed with clone farming.

Some 62per cent of Britons said it was unacceptable to use cloning for food production as it treats animals as commodities rather than living beings.

Throughout the EU, 63per cent of people said they would not want to eat meat and milk from cloned animals. The figure for the UK was 55per cent.

A similar proportion were equally unhappy to eat food produced from the offspring of clones.

The survey found that the majority of Europeans – 58per cent – took the view that animal cloning for food production would never be justified. This fell to 45per cent of Britons who took part in the study.

The Food & Drug Administration in the United States is understood to be about to give the green light to the sale of clone farm meat and milk in shops and restaurants.

In theory, this food could also be exported to the UK. Just over 80per cent of Britons said that any such food should be labelled as being from clone farm origin to allow them to decide whether to eat it or not.

Ten years ago, a similar requirement for the labelling of foods containing GM ingredients triggered fierce rows between Europe and the United States.

The Americans complained it would place an unfair stigma on the food an so represent an unfair restraint of trade.

The Eurogroup for Animals, which speaks for animal welfare groups in Britain, called on the European Commission to act on the survey.

Director, Sonja Van Tichelen, said: ‘Our society does not need food from cloned animals, especially not when it leads to more animal suffering. Consumers want natural and healthy food, not Frankenstein food.

‘We urge the Commission not to ignore these citizens’ concerns by ensuring cloning for food does not take place in the EU and those products will not be imported.’

In September, MEPs voted to prohibit the cloning of animals for food. They also backed a ban on the sale of any products from cloned animals and their offspring.

Research published by Britain’s Food Standards Agency in June made clear the public is worried about the impact the technology has on animals and questioned what benefits there were.

A Gallup poll in the USA found more than 60 per cent of Americans believe the practice is immoral, while a a survey by the American Consumers Union discovered 69 per cent have concerns about meat and dairy products from cloned animals in the food supply.

The first clone offspring calf, Dundee Paradise, was born on a farm in Shropshire in December 2006. Seven more were subsequently born, however there is no information on their current whereabouts.

Conservative MEP Neil Parish, who is chairman of the European Parliament agriculture committee, has led efforts in Brussels to get a ban in.

He said: ‘Consumers are right to be concerned about the long-term effects animal cloning could have on nature and human health.

‘We must be guided by the science and not emotions, but the science is not suitably developed to ensure the levels of animal welfare and human health protection we would expect in Europe.

‘The EU should ban animal cloning for food until the scientists can confirm conclusively that it is safe for human health, and does not provide untold animal suffering. The concerns of consumers must be heard.’

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