A farmer who sparked a probe into the sale of meat from the offspring of cloned animals has criticised Government advisers for taking so long to rule the produce was safe to eat.
Steven Innes, who bought two bulls born to a cloned cow and allowed meat from one of them to enter the food chain, said it was difficult to see how there could be a difference in the taste of meat or milk from the offspring of cloned livestock.
His comments come after a Government advisory committee said produce from cattle bred from cloned cows was safe to consume.
Mr Innes, whose farm in Auldearn near Inverness is one of the biggest dairy farms in the area, said: “Where they are now with research on this is where they should have been back in August. It’s already happening across the world.”
He also highlighted difficulties in labelling products from such animals. “I don’t know how it would be possible to label all food of that kind, given imports into the country,” he added. “Those would also have to be labelled.”
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) launched an investigation in August after it emerged one of Mr Innes’s bulls had been slaughtered and its meat sold in the UK. The FSA found meat from three animals reached the shelves without being authorised under the Novel Food Regulations.
Under European law, foodstuffs – including milk – produced from cloned animals must pass a safety evaluation and get approval before they are marketed.
On Thursday, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) found no difference between produce from cloned animals or their offspring, and those bred normally.
Responding to the findings, Andrew Wadge, chief scientist at the Food Standards Agency, said: “In considering this hypothetical application, the ACNFP has confirmed that meat and milk from cloned cattle and their offspring shows no substantial difference to conventionally produced meat and milk and therefore is unlikely to present a food safety risk.”
Dairy UK welcomed the announcement and said the FSA had been “sensible” in its approach. A Dairy UK statement said: “The FSA’s announcement confirms once again that there is no risk from consuming milk and meat from the progeny of cloned animals. What it also does is takes the UK towards a common position with the rest of Europe, which will provide clarity for farmers, food manufacturers and consumers.”