Milk from the offspring of cloned cows poses no risk to public health, claim industry leaders.
“This is the first instance where there has been any suggestion of milk associated with cloned animals being used in production,” it said.
“Milk and meat from the offspring of clones does not present any food safety risk,” the statement continued.
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.
Dairy UK said there was no difference in food safety between milk from the offspring of cloned animals and milk from conventionally bred animals.
It said it was “liaising closely” with the Food Standards Agency, which has launched an investigation into the issue.
The FSA’s view is that milk from the offspring of cloned animals requires European Union approval before it can be sold.
“The agency has not received any applications relating to cloning and no authorisations have been made,: said an agency statement.
“The agency will, of course, investigate any reports of unauthorised novel foods entering the food chain.”
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.
But supporters of cloning disagree.
The technology has many benefits, said Brendan Curran, a geneticist from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at London University.
“This type of cloning is an extension of the process by which identical twins arise in nature,” he said.
“Therefore, if you have a healthy cow that is producing milk, it will produce healthy milk.
“I would argue that once the animal has been certified by veterinary surgeons as a fit animal, I can’t see how it would be in any way dangerous.”
Cloning procedures were carried out compassionately under strict conditions so welfare shouldn’t be a problem, said Dr Curran.
“After the animal has been born and grows to be an adult, it reproduces normally and does everything normally,” he said.