GM WATCH comment: The suggestion in this FT article that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) could make cloned meat a reality may well be correct. While we know that cloned animals are genetically defective - with as many as 4-5% of their genes expressed incorrectly - it would be no surprise if the EFSA, through its reductionist prism, failed to take account of the implications. What's inescapable, though, is that this technology is an animal welfare disaster, generating death and abnormality on a totally unacceptable scale.
Of course, given consumer aversion, a boycott of milk and meat from cloned animals seems a racing certainty in Europe. But for choice to become a reality, we'll need not just labelling but the ability to track in detail the origins of all milk and meat. In just 4 generations, a single bull whose semen is traded can produce more than 100,000 descendants. And brokers are trading semen and embryos from cloned animals right now.
For more on cloning see Dolly's Long Goodbye
Cloned meat could be allowed in EU
By Andrew Bounds in Brussels
Financial Times, March 9 2007
The prospect of cloned meat being sold in Europe drew nearer on Thursday after the European Union's food safety authority was asked to rule on the matter.
The European Commission said it had asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) look at the implications for food safety, animal health, animal welfare and the environment of cloning. The US approved in principle meat and milk from cloned animals for consumption last year.
EFSA, a technical body that tends to back scientific innovation, will report back within six months. "Animal cloning is a new breeding technique, which is currently used almost exclusively for research purposes in the EU. However, it appears likely to develop and expand both in the EU and internationally in the future," the Commission said.
An advisory group on ethics would also be asked to update its 1997 ruling. That found that there were potential benefits for agriculture from the process, though warned against reducing the gene pool too far.
The issue became more pressing in January after a British farmer revealed the birth of a calf born from a cloned father and surrogate mother. There are no rules covering whether its milk should undergo extra tests before being sold.
A Commission spokesman said no company had yet applied to clone animals commercially or to import cloned meat into the EU. He said the EU's 27 member countries would be asked for their opinion but might not have a formal role in decision-making.
Several are very wary of the technology. While EFSA has consistently approved genetically-modified crops, a majority of governments have combined to block the Commission's attempts to put them on the market. They argue that the public is not prepared to eat them.
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