Famous dairy cows, Dundee Paradise and Dundee Paratrooper, were due to be sold at public auction on 5 March; however, following pressure from animal welfare groups including Compassion in World Farming and several newspapers (particularly The Daily Mail), the clone progeny (offspring) were withdrawn from the auction.
The Daily Mail approached Compassion in World Farming Ambassador, Joyce D'Silva, for her comments and Peter Stevenson, our Chief Policy Advisor, featured on BBC Radio 4's Farming Today explaining Compassion in World Farming's strong case against the cloning of farm animals.
Peter Stevenson said, "The sale of the offspring of a cloned cow will bring cloning out of the laboratory and on to the farm. Before long, we will see meat and milk from the offspring of cloned animals on the supermarket shelf."
The frozen embryo of Dundee Paradise was flown to the UK in 2006 to be reared on a Midlands farm. She was the daughter of a clone, developed from cells taken from a champion dairy Holstein.
Cloning leads to a high level of animal suffering and health problems. Once a cloned embryo has been produced, it has to be implanted into a surrogate mother - this is a stressful and invasive procedure. Moreover, cloned foetuses are often larger than normal; this leads to difficult births and often to caesarean deliveries. Many clones die during pregnancy. Of those that survive, many die in the early weeks of life from heart and liver failure, kidney abnormalities and respiratory problems.
The law on animal cloning for food
The situation is still quite a grey area. As it stands, there are a number of hoops that suppliers and retailers would have to jump through before they could put products on the market.
This is because food products derived from clones or their offspring are subject to the EC Novel Food Regulation - which basically means that they would require a full pre-market safety assessment before sale and potentially be branded with a food label indicating their derivation. There has been no such application to date, but recent events considered, it certainly looks as though an application is getting closer to reality.
Peter Stevenson continues, "We are calling on consumers to make it clear to the supermarkets that they don't want meat or milk from cloned animals or their offspring. We urge the government to ban the cloning of animals. We're working with MEPs to get a ban on the sale of meat or milk from cloned animals and their offspring."
Cloning of farm animals is taking us in the wrong direction - towards perpetuating industrial farming when all other societal trends point towards sustainable farming and respect for animals as sentient beings.
If you want to help prevent this unnecessary cruelty, please donate today.