The National Beef Association has called on everyone with a stake in the UK beef industry, including dairy farmers who cull out cows and bulls, to do all they can to make sure they do not sell animals with cloned origins into the beef processing and retail distribution system.
And it will also ask Defra, and dairy breed societies, to quickly make arrangements for cattle with cloning backgrounds to be easily identified so disposal mistakes are not unwittingly made if the original purchaser of cloned embryos, or embryos taken from the offspring of cloned cattle, has sold stock to new owners who are not aware of its breeding.
“This could be done by putting the initial “CL” after the name of female and male calves when they are registered and entered in the pedigree herd book,” explained NBA director, Kim Haywood.
“Here in the UK we need to be aware that cloning technology could soon become widely used by dairy breeders in the United States, where rules on the sale of milk or meat from cloned animals are different from the EU.”
“Dairy genes of US origin will continue to enter the EU, and the UK, and if incoming embryos, semen, or live animals, are of cloned origin there must be clear confirmation of this – which must then be recorded on the pedigree certificates when stock of cloned origin is registered.”
In the meantime there are reports that perhaps 100 cloned origin cattle are already on farms in the UK so the NBA is asking everyone, particularly dairy farmers, to be alert when they decide these animals are no longer useful breeders.
“The integrity of the UK beef industry depends on this. The beef sector has contracted with retailers and consumers to deliver a lawful product that meets all EU and UK food law requirements and it back tracks on this at its peril,” said Ms Haywood.
“It is reassuring to know that tracing procedures on beef from individual cattle are so good that the Food Standards Agency has been able to remove product taken from a single, 3.5 year old, cast bull that was already moving through the supply system - but the truth is beef of this type should not have been there in the first place.”
“Consumers who are still concerned can take comfort from the fact that beef from only one cloned animal has entered the domestic food chain, around three million beef cattle are processed inside the UK each year, and the beef sector has been alerted to this mistake so it should not happen again”
“Current EU rules insist that beef from cloned cattle can only be offered as a novel, non-mainstream, food that carries specific FSA approval. The NBA has no quarrel with this – although it is aware that the most recent investigations by EU food safety specialist concluded that beef from cloned cattle was indistinguishable from the mainstream product.”
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