Milk from offspring of cloned cow 'sold in Britain'
Milk from the offspring of a cloned cow is being sold in British shops, it has been claimed.
The Food Standards Agency is investigating the claim made by an anonymous British dairy farmer.
The FSA said it believed that the practice of selling milk from cloned cows and their offspring was illegal.
The farmer said that as part of his daily production he was using milk from a cow bred from a clone. The milk was not being labelled or identified as being different from produce derived from a cow born naturally.
The farmer, who wanted to remain anonymous because he feared that consumers would stop buying his milk, made the claim to the International Herald Tribune.
He also said he was selling embryos from the same cow to breeders in Canada.
Earlier this month the European Parliament voted to ban the sale of meat and dairy products from clones and their offspring. However, it has yet to pass into law.
Under European law, foodstuffs produced from cloned animals must pass a safety evaluation and get approval before they are marketed. The FSA, the body responsible for assessing so-called novel foods, said it had not made any authorisations nor been asked to do so.
The cows being used to produce the milk started life in the United States as embryos created from the eggs of cloned cows and the sperm of normal bulls. The embryos were frozen and flown to Britain where they were implanted into host cows. The offspring produce higher quantities of milk than normal cows.
In 2007 it was disclosed that eight cloned cows were born this way on British farms, including one in Shropshire.
Research has identified concerns for the health of animals produced as a result of cloning. There is some evidence of premature births and deformities. However, an FSA spokesman said: “Based on the best available evidence, there are no food safety concerns surrounding consumption of products from healthy clones or their offspring.”