Following announcements of the birth of a calf by a cow that is the clone of a prize winning dairy cow, the FSA has confirmed that it is in discussion with the European Commission about the legal requirements relating to the offspring of cloned animals and the marketing of products from them.

Cloned animals fall under the EU Novel Foods Regulation (Regulation 258/97). Consequently, any product from the cloned animal would be required to subject to a safety evaluation by all 27 EU member states as a novel food before it could be legally marketed. The FSA has indicated that its view is that products from the offspring of cloned animals, like those from cloned animals themselves, should be considered as novel foods and that its view is also shared by a significant number of other member states who meet at an EC discussion group meeting that took place in Brussels on 12 January.

The issue will still need to be considered fully by the European Commission before it is discussed at a meeting of the Standing Committee and a decision made. The Commission and the FSA are reported to be pressing for this to happen as soon as possible, together with referral of this issue to the European Food Safety Authority for advice on consumer safety.

FSA officials are also reported to be in liaison with Defra about the import of embryos from cloned animals into the UK and the monitoring of cloned animals and their offspring.