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NFUS LATEST ON CLONED OFFSPRING

                                         Briefing

Date    : Thursday 5 August
To    : NFUS Staff, Office Bearers, Members, Stakeholders
From    : NFUS Head Office
Direct dial   : 0131 472 4000
E-mail address   : sarah.anderson@nfus.org.uk

NFUS LATEST ON CLONED OFFSPRING

Latest statement from the Food Standards Agency

The Food Standards Agency is updating on its investigation into reports that products from the offspring of cloned animals have entered the food chain.

While there is no evidence that consuming products from healthy clones, or their offspring, poses a food safety risk, meat and products from clones and their offspring are considered novel foods and would therefore need to be authorised before being placed on the market.
The Agency has traced all of the calves born in the UK from eight embryos harvested from a cloned cow in the US. Four of these embryos resulted in male calves and four were female; all were the Holstein breed of cattle.

The FSA can confirm that meat from a second bull, Parable, has entered the food chain. Parable was born in May 2007 and was slaughtered 5 May 2010. This is in addition to the confirmation given yesterday that meat from another of the bulls, Dundee Paratrooper, entered the food chain in 2009. Meat from both of these animals will have been eaten.
The Agency confirmed yesterday a third bull (Dundee Perfect) was slaughtered on 27 July 2010 and its meat has been prevented from entering the food chain.

The fourth male calf died at about one month old. No meat or products from this young animal entered the food chain and its carcass was disposed of in accordance with the law.
Of the four female cows, Dundee Paradise is alive on a UK dairy farm. Following a visit from local authority officials, the Agency has been informed that there is no evidence milk from this animal has entered the food chain.

The Agency has traced two other cows that we believe are being kept as part of dairy herds but at present we cannot confirm whether or not milk from these animals has entered the food chain. Local authority officials are visiting the farms on which these animals are kept.
The fourth female calf died at less than a month old. No meat or products from this young animal entered the food chain and its carcass was disposed of in accordance with the law.
The Agency has also been working to trace offspring from these eight animals. At present any offspring will be too young to be milked or to be used for breeding purposes. The Agency is reminding farmers with these animals that in order to produce food products from them they will need to seek authorisation under the Novel Food Regulations.

What is a novel food?

Meat and products from clones and their offspring are considered novel foods. A novel food is a food or food ingredient that does not have a significant history of consumption within the European Union before 15 May 1997. In the UK, the assessment of novel foods is carried out by the Advisory Committee for Novel Food and Processes, an independent committee of scientists appointed by the Food Standards Agency.

For more information see www.food.gov.uk

NFUS Background

Eight embryos harvested from a cloned cow in the USA were imported into the UK.  Four of these embryos resulted in male calves and four were female.  All were the Holstein breed of cattle.  Two of the male calves were purchased by a farmer in Scotland –  C Innes and Sons of Auldearn.

Current NFUS position

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Agency Scotland have said that there is no evidence that consuming products from healthy clones, or their offspring, poses a food safety risk.

One bull, which was the offspring of a cloned cow, from the Innes farm did enter the food supply chain in July 2009.  This is not illegal in itself; however, a novel food application should have been sought from the Food Standards Agency to highlight that the bull was the offspring of a cloned cow before being allowed to enter the food chain.  This did not happen.  

The meat that came from this bull will therefore not have been labelled as being from the offspring of a cloned cow and consumers will have been unaware that this was the case.  The primary issue relates to consumer choice.

NFU Scotland is adamant that we must improve the system of traceability and labelling so that a similar situation does not arise again.  We are already discussing this with the FSA and the Scottish Government.

Activity to date

Since details of the situation first emerged NFU Scotland has been in close and constant contact with the farmers involved, C Innes and Sons of Auldearn and government authorities.

NFU Scotland’s policy staff have been researching the legal background and implications of the case in order to brief NFUS staff, office bearers and members accordingly.

NFU Scotland’s communications team have handled the significant amount of media interest with enquiries taken from the following sources:

Sky TV, Press Association, BBC local and national, local radio stations, the Herald, the Daily Express, the Scotsman, STV, ITV, Channel 4, the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, the Times, the Telegraph, the Guardian, Yorkshire Post, Evening Express, members of the agri press.

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