Concerns raised over cloned foods in Denmark
With the products in contention imported mainly from North America, the investigation could lead to stricter product labelling laws in Denmark. The retail sector, including supermarkets and restaurants, maintain they are purchasing and selling meat and dairy products in good faith from North American and other foreign suppliers as not being sourced from cloned animals.
A preliminary inquiry by the ministry has revealed that, due to mislabelling, meat and milk that can be traced to the offspring of cloned farm animals has "probably" been sold in Danish stores and restaurants for an unspecified amount of time.
Supermarkets and restaurants in Denmark are "without doubt unaware" they are selling products connected to cloning, said Hanne Boskov Hansen, a special food and safety adviser to the Ministry.
"What we can say with certainty is that it is not possible in Denmark to purchase meat or milk that is sourced from first-generation cloned animals. However, in the case of meat and milk that can be traced to the offspring of cloned animals, that is most probably already here, and being sold in Denmark," said Hansen.
The ministry’s preliminary analysis identified the primary source countries as Canada, the US, Brazil, and Argentina. Denmark, said Hansen, has firmly adopted the anti-cloning line taken by the European Union (EU), which is against the use of cloning techniques for breeding livestock. Keeping meat and dairy product totally free of the source cloning encroachment will be difficult, said Henrik Callesen, a professor of reproductive biology at Aarhus University’s department of animal science.
"A good amount of the meat linked to source cloning – and which is finding its way to Denmark and on to supermarket shelves – is coming from North America where cloning techniques are not only becoming more common, but where there is no labelling requirement to state a link to a cloning source," said Callesen.
That said, Mickey Gjerris, chairman of the Danish Council of Ethics’ working group on ethical food consumption, stressed the weight of research confirmed meat and milk from the offspring of cloned animals was safe and identical to regular meat and milk from non-cloned herds: "The issue here is predominantly one of labelling. I see no qualitative difference between cloning and what we are already doing today in Danish pig farming. If we are to ban cloning, we also need to look at many other animal ethical issues," Gjerris said.