The Food Standards Agency is investigating claims that milk from the offspring of cloned cows is being sold in Britain.
It follows assertions by an anonymous British farmer who said he was using milk from a cow bred from a clone as part of his daily production.
The milk producer also claimed he was selling embryos from the same cow to breeders in Canada.
He insisted on anonymity, saying he feared being made to sell the animal should it become public knowledge.
The British public regarded cloning as so distasteful that buyers would stop taking his milk, the farmer told the International Herald Tribune.
The FSA said foods produced from cloned animals came under European Union regulations.
Any meat, milk or eggs from cloned animals would be subject to EU approval before it could be legally marketed.
The suggestion that British consumers may be unknowingly drinking milk from the offspring of cloned animals has created a media storm.
“Milk from the offspring of cloned cows is secretly – and illegally – going into high street shops,” reported the Daily Mail on Monday (2 August).
The RSPCA said it was totally opposed to cloning for food production on animal welfare and ethical grounds.
“People seem so focused on whether or not we could do this, they have forgotten to look at whether we should,” said an RSPCA spokesman.
“Cloning causes untold suffering to the animals in the process, but is purely for commercial benefit.”
But supporters of cloning disagree.
Cloning has many benefits, according to the American livestock cloning company Cyagra.
“The benefits of the cloning technology are limited only by the openness of your thought process,” it says.
Cloning can help farmers keep up with demand for semen, embryos and offspring, according to the Cyagra website.
It can also help eliminate diseases and genetic disorders.
“Herd uniformity can bring you real production and management efficiencies,” the website says.
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