An interesting little example of the stupidity of the food testing system in the European Union. First, the Americans have considered this matter:
US farmers have been given the green light to produce cloned meat for the human food chain. In a 968-page report billed as a "final risk assessment" of the technology, the US Food and Drug Administration has concluded that healthy cloned animals and products from them such as milk are safe for consumers.
An entirely logical stance. There\’s nothing different about meat or milk from cloned animals. Indeed, that\’s rather the point, that there isn\’t anything different about them. So while one can argue on moral grounds (not sure what ones, but I\’m sure it\’s possible) or animal welfare ones, as is done here:
"It\’s a technology that has arisen out of a huge burden of animal suffering and that is still going on," said Joyce D\’Silva, of Compassion in World Farming. But she said even if the embryo loss rates were brought down to acceptable levels, the technology would be detrimental to animal welfare. "It looks like it is going to be used to produce the most highly productive animals – the cows that produce the most milk, the pigs with the meatiest bodies. These are the high-producing animals that have the most endemic welfare problems anyway."
Well, yes, that\’s the point of all animal breeding programs. All this one does is allow us to do it better.
But arguing about the food itself as being safe or unsafe is nuts: thus the American decision. But what has to happen here?
Even if cloned meat were given approval by the European agency it would have to undergo rigorous testing. "Under the novel foods regulation, the applicant has to provide evidence of safety – this could be in the form of a detailed comparison with the existing product, or it could be the results of tests in animals," said a spokesperson for the UK\’s Food Standards Agency. It would also be subject to approval by the European commission, which would require a majority vote of EU member states. Approval in the EU is likely to be years away, if at all.
That\’s the way to spark innovation, isn\’t it? To make Europe the most knowledge based, forward looking (or whatever the gibberish offered by the Lisbon Declaration is) economy in the world? When you offer something which isn\’t in fact a new product at all, it\’s a direct replication of an existing one (again, which is, after all, the point of cloning) you have to go through a testing process lasting some years, one which also requires the assent of the assembled continent\’s politicians, before you can sell it?
That\’s really going to get the boffins excited about inventing new things, isn\’t it?