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Cloned meat and milk? No thanks

14 November 2006

Cloned meat and milk? No thanks

The Green Party is alarmed to discover there are no regulatory controls on the production and use of cloned animals, and that there are plans that could allow them to be sneaked into the food chain.

Green Party Environment Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos says it was today reported that AgResearch hopes to be able to sell meat and milk developed from its herd of cloned animals.

AgResearch commendably has a voluntary moratorium in place, while it awaits a ruling by NZFSA on whether cloned milk or meat could be consumed by the New Zealand public, based on a US Food and Drug Administration review. There appear to be no restrictions on such sales at present, Nandor says.

NZFSA's director of policy Carole Inkster was reported as saying that cloned products - such as grapes - are already in the New Zealand market place and animals are the next step.

"There is a world of difference between vegetative propagation and animal cloning," Nandor says.

"It is pretty clear from Ms Inkster's comments that this process is a sham. They indicate that her mind is already made up. This decision should not just be a rubberstamp of the USFDA's findings, it should be made by qualified, unbiased New Zealanders - after the public has had the chance to give input.

"It is difficult to see how a general safety clearance can be made in any case, given the potential for undetected abnormalities. Cloning does not produce consistent effects.

AgResearch figures indicate that 90 percent of cloned offspring were unviable, and other studies have found differences in the make-up of meat, mothers killed by oversized offspring and the possibility of compromised immune systems in cloned animals.

"NZFSA is taking an unacceptably blasé approach," says Nandor.

Greens' Safe Food Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said consumers would be horrified if cloned meat and milk was sneaked into the food chain. There are a whole lot of ethical, animal welfare and other reasons why consumers would want to avoid eating these products.

"If the sale of these cloned food products is to be allowed it is essential that a clear labelling and a proper safety evaluation process is agreed to right at the start, so producers realise they will have to label them. They will then realise that there will be no market for them when consumers stay away from them in droves," Ms Kedgley says.

ENDS

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