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German agriculture minister voices 'great reservations' about cloned food 

PR-inside.com 2008-Jan-17

BERLIN (AP) - Germany's agriculture minister said Thursday that he would have ‘great reservations’ about introducing meat and other products from cloned animals, despite a U.S. assessment that it would be safe.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that food products from cloned animals are safe to eat.

The decision came after a preliminary European Union study, released last week, said such products were unlikely to pose a risk.

German Agriculture Minister Horst Seehofer said he has ‘extremely great reservations’ from an ethical point of view about bringing cloned animals into the food chain. He argued that it should not be discussed purely as a scientific or health issue, and stressed that, as a matter of ethics, he views it with ‘very great skepticism, bordering on rejection.’

The issue offers ‘a typical example of the fact that society cannot and should not put into practice everything that technically is possible,’ said Seehofer, who also is responsible for consumer protection.

EU officials on Wednesday assured consumers and critics that meat and milk from cloned animals was not about to appear on European shelves. The 27-nation union has only just launched consultations on whether to allow cloned food into the food chain, and says no decision is imminent.

The U.S. agency's six-year study concluded that meat or milk from successfully cloned animals which by definition carry the same DNA as the original are no different from the products of traditionally bred livestock.

Berlin Agrees On New GM Labeling Law -- But How Strict Is It? 

Thursday, January 17, 2008 Publication: Deutsche Welle

With a view to creating greater transparency for consumers, Germany is to introduce a special label for food that has not been genetically modified, such as products from animals that have not been fed biotech grains.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Gert Lindemann said the new "non-GM" label will apply not only to non-genetically-modified crops but to eggs, meat and milk from animals that were raised without biotech feed.

For the last four years, German food manufacturers have had the option of labeling food containing traces of GM technology, although few have made use of it because of legal uncertainties. Officially, the certificate could only be used if gene technology was absent from the entire production process -- milk from a cow, for example, which had been treated with medicine manufactured using genetically modified micro-organisms could not be labeled GM-free.

The Bundestag, Germany's parliament, is expected to approve the law next week, allowing it to be introduced in spring. Watchdogs approve Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Consumers demonstrate for the right to choose.

Consumer watchdogs have hailed the move as a pragmatic solution. They say it provides farmers with greater motivation to avoid using genetically modified products such as corn and soya. In the past, they were more likely not to go to the trouble, since they knew they would not be allowed to use the non-GM label anyway.

"The new labeling will give consumers the choice to buy dairy products from animals that have not been fed with genetically modified plants," said Gerd Billen from the Federation of German Consumer Organizations in Tuesday's Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. "In future, the consumer will be in a position to make a political decision not to support gene technology in agriculture," agreed Thilo Bode from Foodwatch in the same article.

Experts also say that a rise in consumer demand for food carrying the new label might lead to an increase in demand for non-GM feed on the international market.

Misleading consumers? Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: The new labels will improve transparency.
However, food that is manufactured using genetically modified ingredients such as additives, vitamins and amino acids can be marked with the new labeling.

This has prompted Germany's opposition to dismiss the proposed label as misleading, even though genetically modified additives may be used only when there is no alternative, they must comply with the EU's organic regulations and may no longer contain any genetically modified micro-organisms. "This is a sneaky frontal attack on consumers and farmers who want to consume and produce non-GM products," said Renate Künast from the Green party.

The move was announced in Berlin on Sunday, Jan. 13, the same day the US said it would temporarily hold fire on sanctions on European Union goods in a last-ditch attempt to resolve a bitter trade dispute over genetically modified crops.

The EU missed a World Trade Organization deadline Friday to comply with a decision against EU restrictions on some genetically modified organisms.  

Foes Decry Clone Ruling; FDA Requests 'Transition' For Meat, Milk 

Thursday, January 17, 2008 | Elizabeth Weise Publication: USA Today

Consumer and animal rights advocates condemned the Food and Drug Administration's announcement Tuesday that meat and milk from cloned cattle, pigs and goats is safe for the American public to eat and drink.

Animal rights groups argue that cloning is cruel because it works only in a small percentage of attempts and is stressful for the animals involved. Some consumer groups say there isn't sufficient scientific proof that these foods are safe, despite seven years of FDA research.

The groups opposed ranged from Farm Sanctuary -- whose spokeswoman, Natalie Bowman, called the FDA decision "appallingly irresponsible" -- and the American Anti-Vivisection Society to Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America.

"In the face of ever-increasing food safety concerns, it is troubling to see the FDA approval of products from cloned animals to be sold to the public, when questions surrounding the health risks, legal implications and ethical concerns remain unanswered," says Tom Buis, president of the National Farmers Union. "Furthermore, there is no data to suggest any consumer demand for such products."

The FDA stood firm. Stephen Sundlof, director of the agency's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said there are no safety concerns.

This month, the European Union came to the same tentative conclusion, although it hasn't made a final decision. Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Japan are studying the question.

The FDA is asking for a voluntary moratorium on the sale of meat and milk from cloned animals during a "transition" period of unspecified length to allow food producers to work out sale parameters and labeling. It's unlikely that many consumers will encounter products made from clones. There are only 600 cloned livestock in the USA, about 570 of which are cattle, says Bruce Knight, undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Because cloning costs $6,000 to $15,000 for each live birth, depending on the species, it is rare, says Greg Jaffe of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest. "The clones are going to a minuscule portion of the food supply. What's going to be on people's dinner plates is their offspring." 


GM pig project faces criticism 

05 January, 2011 www.meatinfo.co.uk

A project in Canada has developed genetically modified pigs that could be among the first to be approved for human consumption.

Enviropig is the brainchild of scientists at the University of Guelph and it has created an animal that contains genes from mice and E.coli bacteria. The specimens are also able to digest phosphates – which means the pigs are cheaper to feed and less polluting.

The Canadian government has approved the animal for production and breeding in laboratories – but as yet it has not been allowed into the food chain.

Supporters claim the animal could help in the battle to feed the ever-growing human population. But critics of GM food believe the animals could lead to more intensive pig farms.

Professor Rich Moccia, of the University of Guelph, told the BBC yesterday: “It's the forefront of discovery in the scientific community. “It's one of only two animals right now using this kind of technology. It really is mind-boggling when you think of it."

The project has also won the support of fellow academic Dr Mart Gross, from the University of Toronto. He said: “We need to double food production. We currently have a global population of almost seven billion and we are looking at nine, 10 or 11 billion by 2050. "Where is that food going to come from? We have to produce more from less."

However, new of the GM pig scheme has faced criticism here in the UK. Vicky Hird, of Friends of the Earth, said the name Enviropig “was a huge irony”.

She added: “Pigs reared in these intensive units can never be sustainable because they require so much soya which is grown by clearing forests which leads to more greenhouse gases being released. “And when it comes to GM food, consumers are voting with their feet. They won’t accept it.”

Comment: In recent years the number of animals used in research has been increasing, primarily as a result of an increase in the use of genetically modified (GM) animals. Genomic research not only adversely affects the animals, but has a low ‘success’ rate, and is progressing at such a rate as to leave the public in the dark. The ethical justification for use of animals in research is traditionally based on harm-benefit evaluations. However, our modest understanding of the nature and extent of harm to GM animals makes such assessments imprecise. Focus should be on developing alternatives, not on developing different animal models. Using animals wrongly reinforces the perception that they are ours to use, rather than recognizing them as sentient beings who experience pain, suffering, and distress.

The debate and the science carries on - a risky business indeed. 

March 13, 2013 Billionaires see value in plant-based food technology, Hampton Creek, Gardein

February 2017 San Francisco-based startup Memphis Meats says it has made the world's first lab-grown chicken strips from animal cells. Co-founder and CEO, Uma Valeti said: “We plan to do to animal agriculture what the car did to the horse and buggy. Cultured meat will completely replace the status quo and make raising animals to eat them simply unthinkable.”

Read more: Cultured Meat - it's here!

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