A dairy farmer has said that milk from the offspring of cloned cattle is being sold to unknowing customers in shops. Meat from such animals may also be in supermarkets.
The eggs of cloned prize-winning Holsteins and the sperm of normal bulls are combined to create embryos in the US. These embryos are them frozen, flown to the UK, and implanted in normal cattle. The aim is to get animals which can produce large amounts of milk.
The European Parliament voted to ban the sale of meat and dairy from cloned animals and from their offspring, but this is not yet law.
Many people have concerns about the health of animals produced through cloning.
The International Herald Tribune reported that Corinne Lepage, a French member of the European Parliament said: “Although no safety concerns have been identified so far with meat produced from cloned animals, this technique raises serious issues about animal welfare, reduction of biodiversity, as well as ethical concerns.”
One dairy farmer in the UK told the paper that he was using milk from a cow bred from a clone as part of his daily production, and that he was selling embryos from the same cow to breeders in Canada.
The farmer insisted on remaining anonymous because he was afraid buyers would stop taking his milk and he did not want to have to get rid of a valuable cow.
In the US, the Food and Drug Administration declared, in 2008, that food from cloned cattle, pigs, goats and their progeny was safe to eat.
Some people believe cloning could lead to new diseases being passed from animals to humans.
The RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming (CiWF), and Eurogroup of Animals are three of the organizations that are against cloning for food.
The CiWF web site states that many clones die before birth, while many of the others die young from heart and liver failure, kidney abnormalities and respiratory problems. It said a 2007 study, summarising five years of commercial experience of cloning cattle in three countries, showed that about 42 per cent of cattle clones died between delivery and 150 days of age.