Allow Food Products From Cloned Offspring

UK - The National Beef Association (NBA) has called on the UK’s Food Standards Agency to fall in with the rest of the European Union and allow meat, milk, and other food products taken from the offspring of cloned livestock access to the mainstream wholesale and retail distribution systems.
calendar icon 17 August 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

If it does not, livestock farmers across the UK will be denied the advantages of breeding technology that is already used, without any market access restraint, in competing countries like the United States, and could eventually be taken up in almost all non-EU countries, explained NBA director Kim Haywood.

“The Association is not yet challenging the decision to prohibit clones to be developed in the UK for use in agriculture, but it is saying there are many reasons why food products from UK stock with a grandparent cloned in another country should be subject to precisely the same rules as any other farm produce and treated in exactly the same manner,” she explained.

Among these is the near certainty that the spread of desirable genetic traits, which for beef cattle could include the inherited ability to consistently produce beef of superior tenderness and taste, could be accelerated in countries where cloning is an accepted technology.

Should this happen, the risk is that in years to come, such high quality beef could enter the UK from the US, Brazil, or any other recogniSed trading source in sufficient volume to replace the position of home produced product on the shelf, and this is too great to contemplate.

“Everyone in the UK, including farmers, the FSA and consumers, must be clear about what the attitude is towards beef from cattle with a cloned animal in their pedigree could mean. The cloning debate is about welfare and ethics – not food safety, “said Ms Haywood.

“The Holy Grail in the beef industry is the guaranteed delivery of branded cuts, especially steaks, which are so consistently tender and tasty they will be preferred by the clear majority of consumers. If beef of such quality can only be delivered by a supply chain originating outside the UK then it is immediately obvious it is a threat to the UK industry – especially if our own farmers are unable to counter the danger by taking advantage of the same breeding technology.

“The UK’s beef farmers cannot be exposed to these double standards. It would be impossible to ban the import of beef from cattle with a specially selected clone type in their background and so our farmers would have to try to counter this competition with one hand tied behind their back.”

“The UK, the EU and the world are fast moving into a period in which better food must, in unit cost terms, be produced in greater volume and more cheaply than it ever has before.”

“This cannot be done without access to technical innovation of almost mind blowing cleverness and dexterity. Good science must be allowed to express itself. Cloning cattle to accelerate the dispersal of a highly valued production trait is part of this process and the FSA must not block it any longer,” Ms Haywood added.

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