Farm leaders consider the implications of publicity over birth of daughter of cloned calf

The birth of the daughter of a cloned cow on a UK farm has sparked a media frenzy and led to a debate about the implications for UK agriculture.

The Soil Association has claimed that the development will destroy confidence in British farming and food.

Peter Melchett, policy director, told the Daily Mail: “High-yielding Holstein cows are already one of the biggest welfare concerns in farming because of the huge strain of producing vast quantities of milk.

“Government figures show that a third of dairy cows are killed after just one lactation because their bodies cannot cope with any more. Cloning would push this whole catastrophe one step further.”

Compassion in World Farming said that it believed cloning represented a real threat to farm animal welfare.

Policy adviser Peter Stevenson said: “It is horrifying to learn that animal cloning has arrived on our farms.

“The UK government must act responsibly by stopping further introductions and setting up an independent watchdog to oversee this area.”

Gwyn Jones, NFU dairy board chairman, said: “Public confidence is an absolute priority for farmers and as an industry we must be guided by consumer preference.

“It is appropriate that we have a sensible, scientifically-based regulatory framework in place to control novel technologies that protect consumer interests.

“The world is a rapidly changing place and an open mind should be kept to this new technology. We should not be driven by misinformation or misconceptions, and must not penalise or discourage the development of new technologies – provided these do not impact adversely on consumer interests.”

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For a taste of the press coverage in the national media

Clone farming has arrived  – Daily Mail

Cow cloning ‘bad news for farming’ – The Guardian

US made calf reopens cloning debate – BBC