Cloning (Somatic Cell Nucleus Transfer Technique) is one of the most advanced biotechnological tools for creating elite animals that are used for producing high quality food sources. This is true whether it is meat or milk which form an important component of diet in many parts of the world. How ever there has been serious controversies regarding the ethical ans safety aspects of this procedure ever since the first successful cloning of sheep in Scotland in 1996.. Though there is no clinching evidence that can cast any doubt about the safety of the products derived from such cloned animals, consumers world over do not favor cloning as a means of food production resulting in set backs for the biotech industry in commercializing this unique technology. Recent uproar regarding detection of meat and milk from cloned cows in the UK market sends an unequivocal message that it may take years to convince the consumer regarding the acceptability of cloning for food production what ever are its merits. If the EU eventually approves cloning of animals for food products, as being reported, the consequences are difficult to comprehend t this point of time.
"A 2008 EU study found consumers across Europe are unhappy at this new era of 'Frankenstein Food' farming. Some 87per cent of Britons said we don't know enough about the long-term health and safety effects of eating food from these animals. A separate study or Britain's FSA by Creative Research, found that the more consumers learned about cloning, the greater were the objections. Director of the research company, Dr Steve Griggs, said: 'There was a strong sense from the public that this represents a quantum leap ...They characterized animal cloning as very much interfering with nature.' Attempts to create animal clones requires invasive techniques to remove eggs and embryos. There is a high number of still-births and malformed young, many have short lifespans. Dr Griggs said: 'There were concerns about the ethical side of animal cloning, indeed whether we have the moral right to go down this road.' On food, he said: 'Most people were concerned that cloning could result in food that was unsafe for human consumption,' he said. 'The fact there are miscarriages and deformed offspring gives people lots of concerns about the implications for the food derived from those animals.' Importantly, the vast majority said food derived from these animals should be labelled".
There is a logic in the stand taken by the industry that it is the ignorance of the consumer that is causing a set back for large scale utilization of cloning technology. But is is difficult to ignore consumer preferences and there is no way the governments and the industry can steamroll their views in commercial exploitation of this technology. One has to remember that in spite of massive data on irradiated foods over the last 5 decades, this technology has not been able to emerge as a mainstream technology for the food processing industry because of widespread consumer resistance. Of course safety agencies in many countries are in a dilemma regarding the necessity of labeling which will provide the consumer an option not to buy the product if not satisfied. How ever consumer has a right to know whether a product has been made by a technology of doubtful safety or under unacceptable conditions. This right must be respected whether it is irradiation process or GM technology or Cloning of animals.