UK

Cloned cow may have scores of descendants - Holstein UK

British beef meat on the bone
Image caption The FSA says two bulls were born in the UK from embryos harvested from a cloned cow in the US

The cloned cow whose calves entered the UK food chain could have scores of descendents, records suggest.

The Food Standards Agency had said it would look at tracing "third generation clones" after confirming meat from two offspring of a cloned cow was sold.

But top cattle breeding society Holstein UK said its data showed three bulls bred from the US-produced clone had sired 97 calves in total.

The FSA would not confirm the data and said there was no evidence of any risk.

The three cows in question - according to the Holstein UK website - were: Smiddiehill Paratrooper which had 38 offspring, Smiddiehill Perfect with 58, and Smiddiehill Dundee Paradise which had one.

Holstein UK describes itself as Europe's largest independent breed society and resource for improving breeding and profitability.

The FSA has admitted it does not know how many embryos from cloned animals have been imported into Britain, but stressed there was no evidence of a safety risk.

And Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of microbiology at the University of Aberdeen, also said meat and milk from cloned cows posed no health risks.

He said: "It is perfectly safe. They are just the same as their parents from the genetic point of view so there's no problem there."

'No issue'

On Wednesday the owner of one of the bulls which entered the food chain insisted he had done nothing wrong.

Farmer Callum Innes bought two bulls produced by the cloned cow from a farm in Shropshire.

Image caption Farmer Steven Innes said he had bought the two bulls privately in 2008

Mr Innes's son Steven, who helps run the farm at Auldearn, near Inverness, said: "We investigated whether this was legal at the time and understood that there was no issue.

"We have acted in good faith throughout and we've been fully compliant with the relevant authorities' wishes and shall continue to be fully co-operative in order to resolve the situation as soon as possible."

NFU Scotland insisted Mr Innes had attempted to clarify the situation beforehand.

A spokeswoman said: "He investigated the issues regarding food chain rules and understood that there was no issue.

"He has acted in good faith throughout, has been fully compliant with the relevant authorities' wishes and shall continue to be fully co-operative in order to resolve this situation as soon as possible."

Under European law, foodstuffs including milk produced from cloned animals must pass a safety evaluation and gain authorisation before they are marketed.

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