Meat from cloned animals on sale 'within two years'

Daily Mail
Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cloned red meat could hit British supermaket shelves in just two years, according to scientists linked with Dolly the sheep.

And American authorities are expected to approve meat from offspring of cloned livestock being sold before the end of the year - without any extra labelling.

The move raises the prospect of British tourists in the US being served such meat without knowing.

"Labelling needs to be handled very carefully, as public acceptance is key to this technology," said Chris Warkup of Genesis Faraday, a governmentfunded research institute based at the Roslin Institute, where Dolly the sheep was created.

"Thousands of UK tourists will be eating cloned meat at McDonald's when they are on holiday in America within two to three years, whether they know it or not," he said.

"But there are some real consumer benefits to this. Hypothetically we could, for instance, create cows that produce more milk, live longer and are more environmentally friendly, producing less methane."

Experts plan to clone animals that are the top 0.5 per cent of breeding stock and then to farm their offspring commercially as meat. But it is likely to be two years before a full decision is made.

Professor Keith Campbell, of the University of Nottingham, who worked on the original Dolly research, said he was in favour of the cloned meat getting the go-ahead. "Cloning is just another technique. And we will not be eating cloned animals as such, but their offspring."

EU discussions over the issue have just begun and are expected to take up to two years before a decision is reached.

But animal welfare groups and food safety organisations have opposed cloning, saying it poses unnecessary risks to the animals, and humans that consume the produce.

Lord Melchett, policy chief of the Soil Association, said the prospect of cloned meat entering the food chain would "horrify" British consumers.

He said: "I cannot think of anything more likely to destroy the public's confidence in British food."

However, the pro-cloning lobby has argued that cloning could help animals develop a resistance to diseases such as foot and mouth.

Experts have said that it will be inevitable that Britons will be consuming meat from cloned animals by the end of the decade as the practice becomes more common.

• Scientists have been told to find a way to cut methane emissions from cows and sheep. Livestock account for a quarter of the harmful greenhouse gas methane released into Britain's atmosphere. Most of the gas escapes through belching so scientists must find cows a diet that causes less wind.

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