Public given a say on cloned meat

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The public is to be given a say on the rules surrounding food produced by cloned animals.

Cloned animal meat can only be sold in the UK if approved by the Food Standard Agency watchdog but legislation concerning the meat sold from the offspring of cloned animals is vague.

Last year it was announced by the FSA that food from the offspring of cloned animals would be allowed into the food chain without labels.

Now the European Union wants to garner public opinion on how to alter the rules across member states.

The consultation, which will run until September 3, will ask whether we should allow the use of the cloning technique for food production, ban food from clones, bring in mandatory labelling of food from cloned offspring and descendants or impose a blanket ban on food from clones, offspring and descendants.

The announcement came on the same day that it was revealed more than 4,000 people have signed a petition urging protesters not to destroy a ongoing genetically modified (GM) wheat trial in the UK.

Previous attempts to conduct trails of the technology have been attacked by campaigners, including an experiment with GM potatoes run by Leeds University.

Peter Stevenson, chief policy advisor for the Compassion in World Farming group, told the Yorkshire Post that cloning “had a reckless disregard for the integrity and wellbeing of animals” and “has no legitimate part to play in the way we feed ourselves”.

He said: “Cloned meat and milk may, or may not be safe to eat – it’s too early to tell. But the issue here is that, for the animals involved, it is a welfare disaster.

“Many clones die in the early stages of life from heart failure, breathing difficulties and defective immune systems.”

The European Food Safety Authority recently said that the health and welfare of a significant proportion of clones was “adversely affected, often severely and with a fatal outcome”.