‘Some of the cattle cloned to boost food production in the US have been created from the cells of dead animals, according to a US cloning company. Farmers say it is being done because it is only possible to tell that the animal’s meat is of exceptionally high quality by inspecting its carcass.
‘US scientists are using a variety of techniques to assess which animals have exceptional qualities. These attributes include meat quality, productivity or longevity. These exceptional animals are cloned to be used as breeding stock, with the aim of raising the quality of herds on beef, dairy and pig farms in the US.
‘There is a long tradition of resurrecting dead animals for cloning – Dolly the sheep being a case in point. The head of the leading US animal cloning company has said that European farmers will fall behind the rest of the world unless they are allowed to use such techniques to improve the productivity of their livestock.
‘. . . But the idea is not to everyone’s taste. The leading whole food chain in the US, Whole Foods Market, has banned the sale of products of cloning. . . . Cloning is not used by livestock farmers in Europe, and there are moves by some members of the European Parliament to ban it altogether. Mr Walton believes that would be a mistake. ”If I were a European farmer and my competitors in the US, China and South America were using the technology, I’d be concerned about losing all access to it,” he said.
‘It is early days for cloning in US agriculture. There are only a thousand clones in the one hundred million-strong American cattle herd. . . . At the moment, the technique is at an experimental phase. Beef, pig and dairy farmers are all trying to establish whether cloning is an economic proposition.
‘Two years ago, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that meat and milk from cloned animals were safe to eat. Ever since then, products from the offspring of cloned animals have entered the food chain.’
More from BBC News: Cattle ‘cloned from dead animals’, 12 August 2010