of clone-derived meat in UK 'unknown'
Two bulls born from embryos harvested
from a cloned cow had been slaughtered, one of which entered the food chain.
Photograph: David Cheskin/PA
council and Food Standards Agency investigate history of bulls born from
embryo taken from cloned cow
Food Standards Agency has admitted that it does not know how many embryos
from cloned animals have been imported into Britain, after it was revealed
that meat from one had already entered the food chain and been eaten.
the FSA revealed that meat from the offspring of a cloned cow entered the
UK food chain a year ago, in the first official confirmation of a breach
of food laws.
bull born from an embryo taken from a cloned cow was slaughtered last week,
but the meat was intercepted before it could be sold. The agency has found
another cloned offspring in a dairy herd.
Highland council said it was investigating the history of both bulls with
farmer Callum Innes from Auldearn, Inverness. "We are working with
the FSA and we sent two animal health officers to the farm yesterday to
meet and speak with the farmer."
96 cattle have been reported to be registered by the company New Meadow
Holsteins of Inverness. Investigations by the food agency into the dairy
cattle were also continuing. This is not believed to concern the same farm.
morning, the FSA chief executive, Tim Smith, stressed there were no health
risks associated with eating meat or drinking milk from the descendants
of cloned cow, but admitted the agency was unsure of how deeply cloned offspring
had penetrated the British market.
a live investigation going on at the moment and, whilst we have got a first-class
cattle tracing scheme, what we don't know is precisely how many embryos
have been imported into the country," Smith said.
he insisted that while there was debate within the EU about how far the
progeny of clones should be regulated, the FSA believed that the novel food
regulations do apply and should have been followed.
officials from the European commission had said the FSA was wrong in its
interpretation of the EU regulations, and that offspring of cloned animals
were not covered.
official said at a briefing in Brussels: "There could be lots of milk
from the offspring of cloned animals in Europe as there is no need to notify
the authorities over this. We have no figures on this."
defended the FSA, saying the UK had a "first-class cattle tracing scheme
and direct supervision of all abattoirs", and called for co-operation
a bit like the police being there and being an efficient service and us
expecting no crime," he told BBC Radio 4.
inevitable that however good the system is, it ultimately relies on the
honesty of the people who are participating in the chain.
it means that every farmer, every breeder, every processor has to come clean
and tell us what it is they're actually doing. It's impossible for us to
stand by each animal and watch what happens to it throughout its life cycle."
environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, promised today: "If we need
to change our procedures to ensure full traceability of cloned cattle and
their offspring in the UK, then we will work with our European partners
to ensure that this happens."
department also confirmed the UK's cattle tracing scheme for more than 10m
animals, introduced in 1998 after the BSE crisis, did not oblige farmers
to say whether their animals were offspring of clones. The system does require
either the genetic or surrogate mother to be named, but embryo transfer
government says 203 consignments of embryos have been imported into Britain
since January last year, but it is unable to translate that into exact numbers
or break them down into embroys from clones and others.
imports 193,000 tonnes of milk and cream each year and exports 533,000,
most to Ireland and nearly all the rest to other EU countries. It imports
250,000 tonnes of meat and veal and exports just 81,000.
proportion of meat or milk from the offspring of clones is still likely
to be extremely small, since the embryos created by the technology have
been used only for a short time, probably as little as four years in Britain.The
revelation by the FSA that meat from the offspring of a cloned cow had entered
the UK food chain came amid unverified claims that a British farmer was
selling milk from a cow bred from a clone and allegations that more than
100 cattle have been bred from clones in Britain.
FSA said it had traced two bulls born in the UK from embryos harvested from
a cloned cow in the US.
of these bulls have been slaughtered. The first, Dundee Paratrooper, was
born in December 2006 and was slaughtered in July 2009. Meat from this animal
entered the food chain and will have been eaten. The second, Dundee Perfect,
was born in March 2007 and was slaughtered on 27 July 2010. Meat from this
animal has been stopped from entering the food chain."
"The agency is continuing its work on tracing the offspring of clones
claimed to produce milk for the UK dairy industry. We have traced a single
animal, Dundee Paradise, which is believed to be part of a dairy herd but
at present we cannot confirm that milk from this animal has entered the
food chain. As part of this investigation local authority officials are
visiting the farm on which this herd is kept."
Gabbatt, James Meikle and Leigh Phillips