Cloned cattle investigation stirs row in Britain

Britain faced fresh questions over its food standards regime on Thursday after it emerged that meat from two offspring of a cloned cow had entered the food chain.

The two bulls whose meat was eaten by unwitting members of the public were among eight cattle conceived using embryos harvested from a cloned cow in the United States.

It is thought there may be more than 100 descendants of the cow in Britain and the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the food safety watchdog, said late on Wednesday that it was trying to track down all of them.

While experts insist that eating meat from the descendants of cloned cows poses no known risk to human health, regulators are facing criticism for allowing the offspring of a cloned cow to be sold.

Britain has been hit by a number of farming scares in recent years, damaging the fortunes of its agricultural sector.

Perhaps the most notorious was an outbreak of BSE, also known as mad cow disease, which led to the culling of millions of animals and to the European Union introducing an export ban on British cattle and their meat in 1996. The ban was kept in place for 10 years.

Since then, there have been outbreaks of foot and mouth disease and, most recently, thousands of turkeys were slaughtered in 2007 after H5N1 avian flu was detected on a farm in eastern England.

Under European law, foodstuffs produced from cloned animals must pass a safety evaluation and gain authorisation before they are marketed.

The FSA is responsible for authorising "novel foods" such as meat and other products from clones and their offspring and said it had neither granted any such authorisations nor been asked to do so.

Its investigations started earlier this week after a newspaper report that milk from the offspring of a cloned cow had gone on sale to the public.

But as it carried out this investigation, it discovered that meat from one bull, Dundee Paratrooper, which was slaughtered in July last year, had entered the food chain.

Local council officials identified its owner as farmer Callum Innes of Auldearn in northern Scotland.

Hours later, it also confirmed that meat from Parable, another bull which was slaughtered in May this year, was likely to have been eaten.

Records from Holstein UK, the body responsible for registering all of the breed's pedigree cows and bulls on farms, revealed that three of the cattle born from the US clone had produced 97 calves.

Smiddiehill Paratrooper had 38 offspring, Smiddiehill Perfect had 58, while Smiddiehill Dundee Paradise had one, according to details on the website.

A spokesman for the FSA told AFP that its investigations were continuing and that it was working to trace all of the offspring, though it could not confirm how many there were.

It had previously admitted that it did not know how many embryos from cloned animals had come into Britain from abroad.

The FSA is facing growing criticism for its handling of the affair, with the Daily Telegraph questioning in an editorial its ability "to act as an effective watchdog of the food industry".

"The lesson of the mishandling of BSE in beef cattle and salmonella in egg production is that a scare story can flare quickly to the point where public confidence is undermined and the farming industry is affected, damaging foreign trade," added The Herald, one of Scotland's national newspapers.

"It is worrying, therefore, that regulators appear to have been caught napping with regard to cloned cattle."

kah-sr/pcj/co

 

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

    £18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

    £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own