Cloned meat safety fears

The European Food Safety Authority said yesterday cloned animal products may not be safe and further study is needed.

In January, in a draft opinion, EFSA had said food products made from healthy cloned cattle and pigs were "very unlikely" to pose any threat to food safety.

Yersterday's verdict was more qualified with Prof. Vittorio Silano, chair of EFSA's scientific committee, insisting that although "no clear evidence" has emerged that food from cloned animals would be unsafe for human consumption, there was evidence of "more frequent and severe" health issues for the animals themselves.

"No clear evidence has emerged to suggest any differences between food products from clones or their offspring, in terms of food safety, compared to products from conventionally bred animals," Prof Silano said. "But we must acknowledge that the evidence base, while growing and showing consistent findings, is still small. That has been one of the challenges throughout this work."

EFSA said there was no indication that differences exist in terms of food safety for meat and of clones and their progeny compared with those from conventionally bred animals. However, such a conclusion is based on the assumption that meat and milk are derived from healthy animals that are subject to relevant food safety regulations and controls.

EFSA has recommended that the health and welfare of clones should be monitored closely under normal husbandry conditions and further investigation should be conducted on the suspectibility of clones and their offspring to disease.