The spectre of a clone food free-for-all came a step closer
Ministers want to allow the unrestricted sale of meat and milk from
so-called Frankenfarm animals.
They are ready to reject the idea of a ban as ‘disproportionate in
terms of food safety and animal welfare’.
The move was immediately condemned by campaigners who warned that
cloning poses a serious threat to animal welfare.
It will also trigger a fierce consumer backlash, with evidence that
the vast majority of people oppose clone farming on welfare and ethical
Many are also fearful about eating clone food amid concerns there has
been too little research to guarantee its safety.
The RSPCA and Compassion in World Farming point to high levels of
miscarriage, organ failure and gigantism among new-born clones.
The policy, drawn up on the orders of the controversial Conservative
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, would also rule out labelling.
The details emerged in a document published by the Food Standards
It revealed: ‘The Government considers that a ban or a temporary
suspension on cloning, the use of cloned animals and the marketing of
food from cloned animals would be disproportionate in terms of food
safety and animal welfare.’
This is the first time the new Coalition government’s policy,
supporting clone farming, has been made public.
Its position would effectively allow the most radical shift in
British food and farming in a generation. In theory, meat and milk from
clones and their offspring could go on sale legally within a matter of
Clone animals would be used for food and to breed herds of unnatural,
supersize animals capable of producing vast quantities of meat and milk.
The policy has been adopted by ministers without any public
consultation. The only surveys of UK consumers carried out by the FSA
and the European Food Safety Authority have demonstrated massive
Despite this, Mrs Spelman plans to lobby the EU and other governments
to effectively abandon any regulation.
The European Commission recently proposed a temporary five-year ban
on the sale of meat and milk from clones. But to the disappointment of
campaigners, it backed allowing food from the offspring of clones to go
The documents published by the FSA make clear the Government wants no
They state: ‘The Government recognises that cloning is a relatively
new technique and that the welfare of clones and of their surrogate dams
must be protected.’
But it argues that existing laws are sufficient to deal with the
welfare of animals and there is ‘insufficient evidence’ to justify a
Recently, a Government advisory committee said that, in its view,
there was no difference in meat and milk from clone animals. The
Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes advised it was ‘unlikely
to present any food safety risk’.
However, the experts admitted there was a lack of safety research.
The committee also noted consumers would want to see any food from clone
animals labelled. This would not happen if the UK gets its way.
A study by the FSA in 2008 found consumers do not want clone food on
their plates. The majority considered it a dangerous manipulation of
nature and potentially harmful.
The FSA study was conducted by analysts at Creative Research. Its
director, Dr Steve Griggs, said ‘the more consumers learned about
cloning, the greater and more widespread were the objections’. Mrs
Spelman appears to have overridden these concerns.
However, she will not have the final say as other European
governments are highly sceptical about the technology and will argue for
Chief policy adviser to Compassion in World Farming, Peter Stevenson,
said he was ‘bitterly disappointed’ by Mrs Spelman’s position.
‘This Coalition pledged to give a high priority to animal welfare,
yet supporting cloning does completely the opposite. The Government also
presents itself as a champion of honest labelling, yet it is proposing a
clone food free for all without any requirement for labels.’
Steven Innes, pictured, and his father Callum who run the
Drumduan Farm, near Inverness, face having to destroy 96 head of
cattle bred from a bull born to a clone