Cow clone may have over 100 descendants in Britain

2010-08-05 08:50

A cloned cow whose offspring’s meat entered the British food chain

may have more than 100 descendants in the country, records suggested today, amid

fears about their spread into the food system.

Three cattle born from the American clone had produced 97 calves,

according to details on the website of Holstein UK, the body responsible for

registering all pedigree cows and bulls on farms.

The news came after food safety officials admitted yesterday that

meat from two of the cloned cow’s other offspring had entered the food chain in

Britain.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said that meat from two bulls,

Parable and Dundee Paratrooper, “will have been eaten”.

The news has fuelled debate in Britain about the ethics and safety

of cloning, although experts insist food products from the offspring of cloned

animals pose no health risk.

Under European law, foodstuffs produced from cloned animals must

pass a safety evaluation and gain authorisation before they are marketed.

The FSA is responsible for authorising “novel foods” such as meat

and other products from clones and their offspring and said it had neither

granted any such authorisations nor been asked to do so.

Its investigations started earlier this week after a newspaper

report that milk from the offspring of a cloned cow had gone on sale to the

public.

But as it carried out this investigation, it discovered that meat

from Dundee Paratrooper, which was slaughtered in July last year, had entered

the food chain.

Local council officials identified its owner as farmer Callum Innes

of Auldearn in northern Scotland.

Hours later, it also confirmed that meat from Parable, which was

slaughtered in May this year, was likely to have been eaten.

In the latest development today, records on the Holstein UK website

revealed that three cattle born from the US clone had produced 97 calves.

Smiddiehill Paratrooper had 38 offspring, Smiddiehill Perfect had

58, while Smiddiehill Dundee Paradise had one, according to details on the

website.

Campaign groups for animal welfare and organic farming have voiced

concern over the issue.

Compassion For World Farming highlighted risks to animal welfare

posed by cloning, while the Soil Association voiced safety fears and said the

use of clones could reduce genetic diversity within agriculture.

But the National Farmers’ Union Scotland said there were “no risks”

to human health posed by food products from the offspring of cloned

animals.

Professor Hugh Pennington, a leading microbiologist at Aberdeen

University, said that while the word cloning “has an HG.

Wells ring to it”, the

process was “perfectly safe”.

“They are just the same as their parents from the genetic point of

view so there’s no problem there,” he said.



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