Any move by the European Commission to introduce a temporary ban on the use of cloned animals for food would not be justified on food safety grounds, the UK Government has said.
The UK stance was spelt out in a report due to go before the country’s Food Standards Agency (DSA) tomorrow as it cautioned that all regulation must be “proportionate and enforceable”.
Ministers said they did not believe there is currently enough scientific evidence to warrant outlawing food from cloned animals. The UK position comes after the Commission recently called for a five-year ban on animal cloning for food production.
“The Government considers 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,” said Alison Gleadle, the FSA’s director of food safety. “The UK therefore does not support the Commission recommendation for the temporary suspension of animal cloning for food production because insufficient evidence has been provided to justify a ban.”
Last month the agency’s Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) concluded that food from cloned cattle and their offspring showed "no substantial difference to conventionally produced meat and milk, and was therefore unlikely to present a food safety risk". The scientists acknowledged that consumers might still want to see such products labelled.
Novel food position
The FSA chiefs are also being asked to consider the body’s standpoint on the cloned animal issue in relation to the Novel Food Regulation and its divergence from the Commission’s position. The Agency currently believes food obtained from clones, their offspring and descendants should be seen as “novel foods” – where as the EC only considers the cloned animal to fall into that category. Food from cloned descendants does not need to be assessed or authorised under these rules, Brussels has said.
The board members will be asked to decide whether the marketing of products obtained from cloned animals should be subject to authorisation as novel foods, but also that they are no food safety grounds for regulating foods from the descendants of clones?
The FSA will further deliberate on whether to endorse or change its view on the regulatory status of cloned descendants. It will examine a proposal to pressure the EC “for formal clarification on the relative status of food from clones and their descendants under existing legislation”?
The board is further set to be asked if agrees that, for food safety purposes, mandatory labelling of meat and milk obtained from the descendants of cloned animals would be “unnecessary and disproportionate, providing no significant consumer benefit”.