Industry slams Food Standards Agency in cloning row

The meat industry is calling for clarity on cloning, with some expressing concern over the Food Standards Agency's (FSA's) handling of the recent debate.

Following newspaper claims, an FSA investigation found three cases where meat from the offspring of clones entered the food chain. Yet some in the sector said the FSA's approach had only served to encourage newspaper hysteria and ran counter to European advice.

While the agency said there was no evidence that consumption of such products posed a risk, it added: "Meat and products from clones and their offspring are considered novel foods and would need to be authorised before being placed on the market."

However, according to the European Food Safety Authority, the meat in this case is "absolutely not different from meat from conventional animals and is fit for human consumption".

Association of Independent Meat Suppliers policy director Norman Bagley said: "It is very disappointing that, after 10 years, the FSA couldn't handle exactly the sort of happening it was set up to deal with. One had to be amused when the Belgians pointed out that, according to the European rules, there was no problem with these animals entering the food chain. The conclusion some might come to is that the FSA is fast becoming more than a bit flaky on science, legislation and communication."

National Farmers' Union chief livestock advisor John Mercer said: "Consumers and farmers need to have a clearer understanding of the rules covering the use or non-use of products from the offspring of cloned animals."

Stephen Rossides, director of the British Meat Processors' Association, said: "[The incident] highlighted the need for policy decisions around this issue to be based on and guided by clear science."

An FSA spokesman said it stood by its position on clones and their offspring, but was pushing for the issue to be discussed at "standing committee" in the EU.

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