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Government Must Consider All Issues on Cloned Animals

Immediate release (26 Nov 2010)

Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341 065

GM Freeze is calling on the Government to look at all issues, including food safety, animal welfare, ethics and socio-economics, before deciding whether to allow cloned animals, their off-spring and products into the UK.

Today the Advisory Committee on Novel Food and Processes (ACNFP) issued an opinion that products of cloned animals are safe to eat. The opinion appears to be “hypothetical” rather than being based on actual detailed analysis of cloned products, [1] and says:

The current evidence on the composition of meat and milk is relatively limited, and further evidence is required on how the rearing of animals in different environments may affect the meat and milk.

GM Freeze says that there is a lot of evidence that the cloning process has a profound impact on the health and welfare of the animals. Only a minority of cloned embryos survive to full term, and the life expectancy of cloned offspring is low because of breathing difficulties, tumours and organ malfunction. [1] Other less noticeable impacts could affect the quality and safety of cloned products as well. The group wants to see more detailed analysis of the composition of cloned products before they are declared “safe”.

The group says that cloning is also a retrogressive step for farming. Its introduction means that farmed livestock will be drawn from a shrinking gene pool at a time when many have realised that the inbreeding of dairy cattle for milk production has had a detrimental impact on the life their expectancy, reproduction and overall health.

Earlier in 2010 the FSA admitted that they had no way of tracing cloned animals or their offspring in the UK. [2] The revelation in the summer of 2010 that cloned meat had already entered the market here came as a result of media coverage in the USA rather than the FSA’s own efforts to monitoring the movement of clones which they knew were in the country.

Cloning of farmed animals is not legal in the European Union, and the European Parliament called for a moratorium in summer 2010 pending the introduction of legislation to ban it. FSA opinion research show there is widespread public opposition to the introduction of cloning, and a Which? survey in 2008 found 80% of people opposed. UK supermarkets have told GM Freeze that they will no stock products from cloned sources.

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

Cloning is a highly controversial issue with little public support. The very high death rate and existence of health problems in clones and their offspring points to the fact that the impacts of cloning are poorly understood. We need to be looking in greater detail at the differences between clones and animals produced by conventional breed techniques.

The Government and FSA must take the widest possible view of the impacts of cloning on our food, farming and countryside, including ethical, animal welfare and socio-economic affects, as well as food safety. The views of the public must also figure strongly.

Cloning takes livestock farming further down the route of intensification where high outputs to produce cheap food are the main objective, making animals mere commodities to be traded globally. The high failure rate of cloning and its impact on the health and welfare of the animals must also be a major factor in deciding if cloning should go ahead.

ENDs

Notes

[1] See www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2010/nov/acnfcloned.

[2] See www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/laboratory/biotechnology/clonedanimals.

[3] Quoted in the Daily Mail, 16 September 2010. See www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1312414/Clone-food-shops-years.html#ixzz0zgcT5J8n.

[4] See www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/clonereport.pdf and Which? face-to-face survey of 1,968 adults in the UK from 8-12 February 2008 that found 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/).