Farmers should start rearing cloned animals to satisfy consumer demands for cheap food, the creator of Dolly the sheep has said.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Keith Campbell, director of animal bioscience at Nottingham University, said farms should be given over to the rearing of fast-growing, well muscled and higher producing offspring of cloned animals.
According to the paper, the “U.S. expects to be eating clone-farmed burgers, pork and bacon within two years, and supporters of the method say Europe must follow suit”.
Speaking at media briefing at the Royal Institution on the role of cloning on Tuesday (10 July) Prof Campbell said that the arrival of Dundee Paradise (the daughter of a cloned cow imported from America earlier in early 2007) could mark the first step to a far wider use of cloned animals to produce food.
Pro-cloning campaigners insist that meat and milk from cloned offspring is identical to that of food from conventionally sired animals and should not be labelled.
Prof Campbell said cloning is a useful extension of existing selective breeding, which includes artificial insemination and embryo transfer.
“It is just another technique that we can add to accelerate genetic improvements to farm animal species,” he added. “Cloning allows us to multiply elite animals.
“We have achieved the ability to clone a whole variety of animals and animal species. In farm animals, we have got cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses.
“In my opinion the ability to integrate cloning into the food production line should be allowed to farmers nowadays.”
He said there is ‘no conceivable risk’ in eating food produced from the off-spring of clones, suggesting the only barrier to the technology is public perception.
However, groups such as the Soil Association disagree.
In a statement the organic group said: “The Soil Association completely rejects the suggestion from some scientists to use cloning. Cloning, like genetic modification, is a totally unnatural process of producing new organisms. There are unacceptable animal welfare impacts.
“As with GM, cloning involves producing numerous deformed organisms, which have to be discarded before a relatively ‘normal’ animal is produced. Cloning animals causes considerable suffering, and is fundamentally unethical.
“The scientists involved said that they would want to keep the commercial use of cloning secret and not label meat or dairy foods produced from cloned animals. They argued that consumers would suffer from “information overload”.
SA policy director, Peter Melchett, said: “You can be sure, if they need to keep it secret, something stinks somewhere.”