Efforts to control the sale of meat and milk from naturally born offspring of cloned animals were effectively abandoned yesterday.
Four months after a crackdown on calves from clones of champion dairy cows, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) decided it was pointless trying to insist on controlling the use of all such animals.
The agency made its decision after being told cloned genetics could already be in pork as well as beef.
The FSA also took into consideration that, as the Yorkshire Post reported in August, its policy did nothing to stop the import of dead or alive descendants of clones.
Clones are produced by "test-tube" replication of the genetics of a single parent. The first was the famous ewe christened Dolly but the science has been used commercially mainly in the dairy and pig industries.
Most European countries, and the USA, are only bothered about meat from the clones themselves. The FSA was alone in insisting that the offspring of a clone and another parent would also require licensing under a regulation covering "novel foods".
Now it is prepared to fall in line with the rest of Europe – guided by the coalition Government's new Departmental team, headed by Caroline Spelman and James Paice. They said the existing FSA policy appeared to be "disproportionate in terms of food safety and animal welfare".
Last night, it was unclear how long it would be before UK-bred clone descendants could start going into the food chain without a special licence.
An FSA spokesman said: "The board will seek the views of interested parties in relation to this change of position."