Meat and milk from cloned animals is essentially the same as conventionally produced meat and dairy products and unlikely to present food safety risks, according to a British government panel of scientists.

At its meeting in London Thursday, the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes ruled on a hypothetical application for the sale of cloned meat. The ruling is said to be important because an affirmative ruling from the group usually results in the food being OKd for sale within the United Kingdom.

So-called “novel foods” — a European Union definition — are those introduced after May, 1997, and include innovative foods or foods produced using new technology.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) will now take up the advisory committee’s conclusion, and whatever the agency decides will play a role in Britain’s negotiations on the cloning issue in Europe.


The European Commission is said to be considering a temporary, five-year ban on animal cloning for food production, while still allowing imports of cloned animal products. 

The proposed ban is reportedly due to ethical questions, because the commission’s scientific arm, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), announced in October that it found no indication of food safety differences between conventional cattle and pork food products and those derived from clones.

In the UK and throughout Europe, some environmental and animal-welfare oppose the sale of cloned meat and milk, saying the issue raises both ethical and practical questions.  They say there’s little known about possible long-term health effects from cloned food and that there’s not enough regulation of cloning for food production. They also cite studies that indicate cloned animals are more vulnerable to deformity, illness and premature death than conventionally produced livestock.

This past summer controversy erupted in the UK following news reports that meat and dairy products were already being marketed from the offspring of cows born in Britain from embryos of a US clone.