Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Letter to my MP regarding Cloned Animals

9 August 2010

Shailesh Vara MP
North West Cambridgehsire
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Dear Shailesh Vara

I am writing to you about the recent news of cloned animal food entering the market and the offspring of cloned cows living on various farms in the United Kingdom. This news was unwelcome and the Government’s response was inadequate.

First of all, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) needs to stop claiming that it can authorise cloned animal foods as novel foods. The FSA claims its authority for this action under the ‘Novel Foods Regulation’ (Regulation (EC) No 258/97). However, this regulation does not cover foods from cloned animals.

Article 1 sets out the definition of novel foods that is currently in force and I believe it is subsection 5 that the FSA is relying on to make its claims.

5) foods and food ingredients consisting of or isolated from plants and food ingredients isolated from animals except for foods and food ingredients obtained by traditional propagating or breeding practices and having a history of safe food use;
Although this wording is broad, it only refers to food ingredients from animals, not foods. Since milk and beef from cloned cows are foods, they are not covered. The regulatory framework for this controversial technology in our food chain is not only inadequate, but virtually non-existent.

Furthermore, the Europa News Release of 7/7/2010 about how the MEPs voted on the amendments to the new novel foods regulation tells us that the EU has not regulated dairy products and meat from cloned animals. The Release also states that the MEPs do not want foods from cloned animals to be considered as novel foods. They called for a moratorium on the sale of foods from cloned animals until a specific regulation could be put in place to prohibit these foods.

One of the biggest issues of cloning is cruelty to the farm animals. The RSPCA has written about this on their website, see RSPCA - Cloning.  And not only did the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies state in its Opinion (No. 23) of 16 January 2008 that there is no justification for cloned animals to be put on the market, but the cloning of animals is incompatible with Council Directive 98/58/EC of 20 July 1998 concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes. Another amendment to the new novel foods regulation reminds us that animals are sentient beings and their welfare is to be considered when formulating and implementing policies.

The safety of these foods for our health is also of vital importance. Although there are claims circulating that it is safe, the scientific evidence is sparse and unconvincing. Logically, this food would be inferior to non-cloned animal foods if the animals are deformed and unhealthy. Of course, this argument and the argument for animal welfare have not made much impact on other animal issues such as penned cows that eat corn and soy (now much of it GMOs) and given many drugs to keep them 'healthy' as opposed to grass grazing cows; and chickens crammed into long dark huts, again fed corn, soy and drugs as opposed to truly free-range chickens. Among others, the organic food movement, famous cooks, journalists and film-makers are working to educate everyone on these issues. But a little more help from the Government would be welcome.

Furthermore, for there to be no controls, tracing and labelling of cloned foods so that when I go to the shop, I can be confident that I know what I am buying is an infringement of my right to chose not to partake in this madness. This also holds true for farmers wishing to avoid cloned animals. There is a real possibility of contamination of organic standards which prohibit foods from cloned animals. It is an extremely urgent matter that needs to be dealt with now.

Cyagra, an American livestock cloning company, is an example of where these animals are coming from and their advertising is alluring. British farmers need to be warned and protected against buying these dubious products. Similar to most of the women in the FSA’s recent research on the matter, the more I find out, the more I am against cloning. Like GMOs, cloning is another money-making spin that is being pushed at any cost. It appears to me that the precautionary principle is fading, and once again, the Government is colluding with big corporations.

Based on the above, I would call for the Government to take immediate action. All cloned animals and their offspring should be terminated and the remains incinerated to avoid further suffering of the animals and ensure that cloned animal products do not enter the food chain at any level. So far the FSA has taken steps in this direction which is good, but much more is needed. Finally, emergency measures need to be put in place to ban cloned animals and animal foods from further entering this country.

Yours sincerely

J. Wilson

cc: Soil Association: responses@soilassociation.org