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Last Updated: Monday, 14 January 2008, 17:31 GMT
Italian farmers fight cloned food
Cloned cows in Maryland, USA
The prospect of food from cloned animals has raised health fears
An influential Italian farmers' union has threatened to challenge an EU report that says products from cloned animals are probably safe.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says it is "very unlikely" that such food is any different from that from conventionally bred animals.

But the Italian farmers' group Coldiretti believes cloned foods would pose an "unacceptable risk".

Brussels has promised to ask consumers their opinions before it gives a view.

A spokeswoman said that EFSA's opinion was preliminary and the European Commission would consider its final assessment along with the result of a public consultation later this year.

Difference of opinion

Chief scientific adviser to the UK's National Farmers' Union (NFU), Helen Ferrier, said her members would not follow the example of the Italian farmers.

"It's the science that has got to inform policy and this EFSA opinion reflects our views in terms of food safety," she said.

The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to give its final verdict on food from cloned cattle and pigs soon.

Although part of the same European farming group as the NFU, the Italian union's threat to "mobilise strongly" against such products is not considered a surprise.

Coldiretti also disapproves of genetically modified foods and is actively engaged in a campaign against biotech crops.



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