No food safety threat from cloned animals, EFSA re-confirms

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food safety Food Nutrition European food safety authority

There is no indication that eating meat and milk from cloned animals holds any greater food safety risk than consumption of non-cloned food, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has said.

But the food safety watchdog said it could only deliver a risk assessment on pigs and cattle as information on other species remained “limited”.

The agency said it would not be changing its opinion on cloned animals delivered last year as no new scientific evidence had come to light since then. EFSA said its Scientific Committee had reached its conclusion after scrutinising a range of sources – including the close assessment of 100 studies published up to 1 July, 2010, information gathered from research centres in Europe and “elsewhere”,​ and discussions with scientific experts on the issue.

The evaluation by EFSA was carried out in the wake of a request from the European Commission in May 2010.

Food safety

EFSA said evaluation by the panel of experts had served to reconfirm the conclusion that “in relation to food safety, there is no indication that differences exist for meat and milk of clones and their progeny compared with those from conventionally bred animals”.

It cited a 2009 study from Hwang et al​ where meat from cloned cattle made up five per cent and ten per cent of the diets of rats over a two and four week-period - for female and males respectively. These were compared with diets of rats with normal meat or without meat. The daily food consumption in both of the cloned and uncloned meat groups was “significantly lower”​ than the control group.

Using reproductive physiological measure, the study concluded there were “no obvious negative effects were seen in rats fed meat from clones compared with feeding conventional meat”.

The panel also said a study with rabbits produced similar results although the report acknowledged “that rabbits are herbivores and may not be a suitable model for assessing a meat diet”.

Mortality rates

The food safety body reconfirmed that mortality rates and the number of animals born with developmental abnormalities are higher in animal clones than in conventionally bred animals.

Its 2008 opinion concluded that epigenetic dysregulation - the reprogramming of the donor cell - is considered to be the main source of problems for cloned animals that can cause developmental abnormalities or even death.

To read a full copy of the EFSA update click HERE

Related topics Regulation & Safety

Related news

Show more