Cloned cow could have more than 100 descendants

 

LONDON – The cloned cow whose offspring entered the British food chain could have more than 100 descendants in the UK, records have suggested.

The Food Standards Agency indicated it would look at the possibility of tracing “third-generation clones” after confirming two cloned offspring had found their way into the food chain.

Amid fears that even more cloned meat could have found its way onto shop shelves, it emerged that three cattle born from the American clone – whose pedigree name is Vandyk K Integ Paradise 2 – had produced 97 calves.

Smiddiehill Paratrooper had 38 offspring, Smiddiehill Perfect had 58, while Smiddiehill Dundee Paradise had one, details on the Holstein UK website showed.

When asked last night whether the Food Standards Agency was trying to trace descendants, a spokesman said: “It’s something we are looking at.”

Smiddiehill Paratrooper’s offspring were all born after August last year, while Smiddiehill Perfect’s trace back to July last year. Smiddiehill Dundee Paradise’s single offspring was registered in April last year, according to the website.

News that another sibling, Parable, which was born in May 2007 and slaughtered on May 5th, 2010, entered the food chain follows confirmation earlier this week that meat from another of the bulls, Dundee Paratrooper, entered the food chain in 2009.

The FSA said meat from both animals will have been eaten, but stressed there was no evidence of a safety risk.

The FSA also confirmed last night that Dundee Paradise remained part of a dairy herd on a UK farm, but there was no evidence milk from the animal had entered the food chain.

The agency believed two other cows were being kept as part of dairy herds, but it had been unable to confirm if their milk had entered the food chain.

Yesterday the owner of one of the bulls that 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.

Mr Innes’s son Steven, who helps run the farm at Auldearn, near Inverness, confirmed that the bulls were bought in February 2008.

The FSA admitted yesterday it did not know how many embryos from cloned animals had been imported into Britain.

But FSA chief executive Tim Smith insisted there were no health risks associated with eating meat or drinking milk from the descendants of cloned cows.

Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of microbiology at the University of Aberdeen, 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.”

Scottish Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson added: “Unfortunately, EU rules around the import of meat and dairy products from clones and their offspring are at present confused and inadequate. It’s this worrying lack of safeguards that has allowed this situation to arise.”

Of the eight calves, four of each sex, one male and one female died at around one month old. No meat or products from the animal had entered the food chain.

The FSA said it was trying to trace offspring from the eight animals, but added that they would be too young to be milked or used for breeding.

An investigation was launched in the wake of claims that a British farmer had admitted using milk in his daily production without labelling it as from the offspring of a cloned cow. Under European law, foodstuffs including milk produced from cloned animals must pass a safety evaluation and gain authorisation.

Vandyk K Integ Paradise 2 was created in the US by the company Cyagra Clone using cells from a champion dairy cow Vandyk K Integ Paradise. – (PA)