|EU food agency backs cloned meat, dairy products|
|Monday, 14 January 2008|
Reuters . Brussels
Meat and milk from cloned animals moved a step closer to European Union supermarket shelves yesterday after the bloc's top food safety agency said cloned food products are safe to eat. In March 2007, the European Commission — the EU's executive arm — asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to assess the possible implications of cloning for food safety, animal health, animal welfare and environment in the bloc.
In its first response posted on its website (www.efsa.eu ), the EFSA said it 'is very unlikely that any difference exists in terms of food safety between food products originating from clones and their progeny compared with those derived from conventionally bred animals'. It added that 'no environmental impact is foreseen as a result of animal cloning'.
Many consumer and religious groups strongly oppose cloning, which takes cells from an adult and fuses them with others before implanting them in a surrogate mother. They say scientists don't know its effects on nutrition and biology.
Advocates of livestock cloning say the technology will help produce more milk and lean, tender meat by creating more disease-resistant animals. They insist it is perfectly safe. EFSA has now opened a consultation process with member states and industry until Feb. 25 before giving its final opinion in May. The Commission's ethics committee is also due to publish its view on the matter next week. 'We take food safety very seriously, so we must wait for these opinions and then we will also look at our survey of public opinion in the 27 member states later this year before making any assessment,' a spokeswoman for EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou said.
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