EU to decide on sale of cloned meat

The government is passing the decision on whether products from cloned animals can be sold in supermarkets to the European Commission.

It follows reports that a calf from a cloned cow in the US has been born on a Midlands farm.

The Food Standards Agency said it has asked the Commission's Novel Foods Working Group to discuss the issue when it meets this Friday.

The FSA added in a press statement: "Cloned animals fall under the EC Novel Foods Regulation. This means that any product from a cloned animal would be subject to a safety evaluation by all 27 Member States as a novel food before it could be legally marketed."

It continued "the authorisation and labelling of novel foods is decided on a case-by-case basis and no applications have been received to date for products derived from cloned animals".

The National Farmers Union said public confidence was an absolute priority for farmers and the industry would be guided by consumer preference. "It is appropriate that we have a sensible, scientifically-based regulatory framework in place to control novel technologies that protect consumer interests," said a spokesman. "The world is a rapidly changing place and an open mind should be kept to this new technology. We should not be driven by misinformation or misconceptions, and must not penalise or discourage the development of new technologies - provided these do not impact adversely on consumer interests."