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for a responsible, fair & sustainable food system

Deep Concern over Spelman’s Position on Cloning

Immediate release (12 Oct 2010)

Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065

GM Freeze has expressed “serious concern” following reports that Defra will review whether the offspring of cloned animals should be classified as Novel Foods and therefore require and approval before entering the food chain. [1]

At a meeting at last week’s Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Defra Secretary of State Caroline Spelman questioned the scientific evidence behind the Food Standards Agency’s decision to class all offspring of cloned animals as Novel Foods and stated that she had asked Defra officials to review this position.

Previously following the revelation that meat from the offspring cloned animals had entered the food chain, the FSA had confirmed that the UK position was that regulatory approval was required for all products from cloned animals and descendents. [2] The Scottish farm at the centre of the controversy has stated that have 96 progeny descended from cloned embryos imported from the USA and they wished to produce milk from them for UK supply. [3]

At present there is no traceability of cloned embryos, semen or offspring required in the UK and GM Freeze have written to Caroline Spelman [4] calling on her to bring in interim legislation to make this compulsory to allow milk and meat from cloned animals and their offspring to be kept out of the food chain.

Concern about the safety of cloned products covers possible changes to the food and the impact on the health and welfare of animals. There is a high mortality rate during the cloning process and the forced transfer of genetic material clearly has an impact of the health of cloned animals and potentially on the safety of food. Polling shows strong opposition to cloning from consumers. [5]

Commenting on the latest development Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

We view Mrs Spelman’s latest remarks with deep concern. Cloning raises some very important ethical issues about how we regard farm animals. Her comments represent a shift by the government towards turning animals into commodities to produce cheap food.

We have already bred livestock to the point where their health and welfare can be seriously impaired and cloning is the next step in the intensification of factory farming.

The government needs to consult and listen to the public on this issue and not be swayed by vested interests.

ENDs

Notes
[1] See www.farmersguardian.com/home/livestock/clone-rules-could-be-relaxed-under-defra-review/34862.article.

[2] See www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2007/jan/clonedoffspring.

[3] See www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1920086?UserKey=#ixzz0zgpPT1jG.

[4] Letters available on request.

[5] See www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/clonereport.pdf and Which? face-to-face survey of 1,968 adults in the UK from 8-12th February 2008 found that only 13% agreed cloning should be used to produce animals for food production and 80% would prefer to buy foods that were not produced using cloned animals. (see www.which.co.uk/about-which/press/press-releases/campaign-press-releases/food-and-health/2008/07/which-food-cloning-statement/).