Meat from clones safe

A conference of 500 food health specialists staged in Brussels by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has been told that eating cloned animals is safe.

Louis-Marie Houdebine of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) said studies do not indicate differences between clones and naturally bred livestock in meat composition, toxicity or allergenicity

"It's impossible to make any distinction between offspring from clones and normal animals," he said.

Nonetheless, as a precaution, he recommended a surveillance of clone offspring for a few more years.

He was supported by Diana Banati, Central Food Research Agency of Hungary, who said that as nuclear transfer (NT) in cloning evolves, "the proportion of apparently healthy progeny is growing and the practical viability of the technology is increasing."

She added: "The use of such animals, which produce many progeny, is already happening in several countries, although the low scale and future economic importance of the technology in agriculture is not clear yet."

There were real marketing pitfalls, she stressed, noting that animal welfare, environmental impact, and moral concerns amongst consumers needed to be satisfied.

But Peter Jinman of Britain's Laurels Veterinary Group, called for a ban on clone farming amid concerns it could have horrible consequences for welfare with calves born with enlarged organs or having difficulty breathing or standing.