A new report from the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has announced that dairy and meat from cloned animals is safe for human consumption. This draft report, which considers data on animal health and food safety, was submitted to EU Commissioners last week and opens up the possibility for cloned animals to be allowed to enter the food chain.
The report stated that: “Based on current knowledge, there is no expectation that clones or their progeny (offspring) would introduce any new food safety risks compared with conventionally bred animals.”
The US Food and Drug Administration has also undertaken an investigation into food from cloned cattle and pigs. The “final risk assessment” has not been released, but a copy obtained by The Washington Post finds no evidence to support opponents’ concerns that food from clones may have hidden risks.
Thus far, cloned animals have not been approved as a food source in Europe or elsewhere, but the US is expected to allow food from cloned animals on the market later this year whilst Australia and New Zealand are currently evaluating the matter.
More than 5000 cloned animals have been produced worldwide in the decade since the production of Dolly in 1997, a cloned sheep. The primary purpose has been in developing elite breeding stock but the technology is now being considered for the breeding of animals for food supply.
EU Commissioners are keen to determine whether there is public support for farm animal cloning and have opened debate on the matter. The report is currently out for consultation and interested parties have until February 25 to respond.
The influential Italian farmers’ union Coldiretti has already threatened to challenge the EU report stating that they believe cloned foods would present an “unacceptable risk”.
The final report on the matter is due to be completed and presented to EU Commissioners by the end of May this year. It will be accompanied by a report on the ethical aspects of animal cloning from the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE).