Daily Mail Newspaper
- February 2008
Daily Mail- February 2008
We were contacted anonymously by someone who wanted to blow the whistle on the fact that the offspring of a cloned cow could enter the food chain.
The story appeared in the Daily Mail newspaper before the cow was due to go auction ensuring that the public would be alerted to the potential problem.
Read the full story below.
Could the calves of Britain's first cloned cow get lost in the food chain?
Britain's first offspring of a cloned cow is to be sold at public auction, prompting fears that the food chain is open to Frankenstein farming.
Dundee Paradise, whose mother was the clone of a prize-winning Holstein cow, is to go on sale next week at a market just outside Bristol.
Her brother, Dundee Paratrooper, who is a few days younger, will be sold at the same event, which could be the focus of protests by animal welfare groups.
The two animals were the first results of clone farming to be born on British farms, just over a year ago.
The mother of Paradise and Paratrooper was Vandyk-K Integ Paradise 2.
She was cloned using cells from the ear of a Holstein, a milking cow, in the U.S.
Vandyk-K was artificially inseminated with semen from a prize-winning bull in the U.S.
Embryos were then removed from her, frozen and flown to the UK, where they were implanted in two surrogate mother cows, or dams.
Paradise and Paratrooper were the only two embryos that were born successfully as cows on a farm at Albrighton, Shropshire.
At least one of the other embryos led to a miscarriage.
The two animals belong to Smiddiehill Holsteins, based at Albrighton.
They are to be sold at an auction of some 200 prizewinning cattle on March 5.
Their birth, which was revealed by the Daily Mail, demonstrated that clone farming had moved from the realms of science fiction to farming fact.
It also highlighted holes in the policing of Britain's food and farming.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs knew nothing about the animals.
And the Food Standards Agency, which polices the nation's food, had no policy for meat and milk from the offspring of cloned farm animals.
As a result of the revelation, the FSA asked the European Commission to investigate the food safety and ethics of allowing clone farming in member states.
Clone farming is highly controversial. Opponents in this country include the RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming and the organic body, the Soil Association.
Critics argue that the manipulation of food animals in the laboratory could trigger unforeseen, potentially harmful, changes to the resulting food.
One committee of the European Food Safety Authority recently advised that there is no food safety reason why clone animals and their offspring should not end up on dinner plates.
However, a separate committee, the European Group on Ethics, said it should be rejected.
"Considering the current level of suffering and health problems of surrogate dams and animal clones, we have doubts as to whether cloning animals for food supply is ethically justified," it concluded.
"At present, the EGE does not see convincing arguments to justify the production of food from clones and their offspring."
Cloning would allow the creation of breeding stock to create supersize cows able to generate vast quantities of milk, and huge pigs.
But many of the cloned offspring die immediately before or soon after birth.
A number have malformed lungs, hearts and kidneys.
There is also a problem of "gigantism". Some of the clones grow so large in the womb that they have to be removed by caesarean section.
EU rules make clear that it is illegal for meat from a cloned animal to go into human food without a full safety assessment.
However, it is not clear whether this same assessment is needed for offspring of clones, such as Paradise and Paratrooper.
The UK's Food Standards Agency believes the offspring should go through a safety assessment, but the European Commission has not come to a formal decision.
Consequently, there is currently no mechanism to stop milk and meat from clone offspring animals from going into the food chain.
Once the animals are sold at auction, there is also no system in place to follow them and see whether their offspring show signs of mutation.
Joyce D'Silva, cloning expert at Compassion in World Farming, said: "We are appalled that the offspring of a clone is to be sold into a completely unregulated market.
"This means meat and milk with clone animal origins could end up in the shops without any labelling."
She added: "Clone technology causes a huge amount of suffering to the animals involved."
Details of next week's sale are circulating on farming industry blogs.
Some contributors believe it will be a focus for protests.
One farmer wrote: "It will be interesting to see what the Paradise calves make. Will there be protesters at the sale?"
The world of dairy cow breeding has many similarities to race horses. The top animals can sell for more than £50,000 each.