• European Commission proposals would ban sale of food from clones
  • But there would be no controls on food from their sons and daughters
  • Proposals would keep families in the dark about what they are eating
The European consumer body, BEUC, condemned any proposal that does not require the labeling of food from clone offspring.
Meat and milk from the offspring of clone farm animals should be allowed on to supermarket shelves without labels, according to EU officials.

The proposals, which would keep families in the dark about what they are eating, were outlined today in a move that was condemned by consumer groups.

The idea of cloning animals for food may seem bizarre and akin to science fiction, however it is possible that beef and milk from the offspring of clones is already being imported here from the USA and other countries.

Separately, the Daily Mail has revealed attempts to rear clone animal offspring in the UK to produce milk for breakfast tables dating back to 2008.

It emerged three years ago that a Scottish farmer had purchased two bulls, which were the sons of a clone, and then bred 92 Holstein milking cows from them.

Initially, he planned to sell the milk in the UK, however following a consumer backlash, he decided to destroy more than 40 of the cows and exported around 30 to Portugal.

Attempts to breed clones in the past has been associated with an increased risk of miscarriage and malformed organs. There is also a problem of 'gigantism', with new-borns so large they have to be removed by Caesarean section.

Some animals, including the original clone Dolly the Sheep, created by the Roslyn Institute in Scotland, suffer the early onset of crippling arthritis.

Dolly, seen here with her first lamb, was euthanized in February 2003 because she was suffering from a lung disease that was spreading among sheep at the institute.
In 2008, the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies expressed doubts that animal cloning for food production can be justified, citing 'the current level of suffering and health problems'.

Research by Britain's Food Standards Agency(FSA) shows the majority of consumers oppose the idea of cloning for food with concerns both for animal welfare and human health.

If cloning is allowed, the research shows that most people want any resulting food, whether from clones or their offspring, to be labelled.

The new proposals from the European Commission would ban the sale of food from clones, however there would be no such controls on food from their sons and daughters.

The European consumer body, BEUC, condemned any proposal that does not require the labelling of food from clone offspring.

It said: 'Currently, cloning for food production is not used in the European Union. However, imports - mainly meat - from the United States, Argentina and Brazil can come from clone offspring.

'Without effective labelling, European consumers have no knowledge of what their Argentinian steak or American beef is made of as traceability systems for cloned food do not exist in these countries.'

The BEUC director general, Monique Goyens(correct), said: 'If Europe is to open the floodgates to meat from the offspring of clones, the least it can do is to allow consumers a choice by labelling such foods.'

'An overwhelming 83 percent of consumers voiced their concerns and have said 'no' to steak and milk from clones and their offspring. If consumers are opposed to cloning for food production, why is the debate still open?'

Milk and meat from offspring of clone animals should be sold without labels, EU officials have said.