From: Reuters
Published January 17, 2008 08:24 AM

French minister says "non, merci" to cloned bifteck

PARIS (Reuters) - Americans may eat it if they want, but the agriculture minister of France said on Thursday that if offered a dish of cloned meat, he'd have to say "non."

Asked if he would eat cloned foods, Michel Barnier told a radio interviewer: "No. You ask me a direct question, I reply no. There is no question of it for now."

"I think there are ethical problems and problems of social acceptability and we are not going to start copying the American model," he said in the interview with RMC radio.

The agriculture chief of Europe's biggest agricultural foods producer, and arguably the world's most food-conscious country, was speaking after Europe's food safety agency and the main U.S. health agency declared cloned food products safe to eat.

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Confirmation this week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that food from cloned animals and their offspring is as safe as other food means meat and milk from cloned offspring will enter the food supply before long.

Europe's top food safety agency also declared this month that cloned food products are safe to eat but has yet to give the green light to marketing cloned food products to consumers

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has opened a consultation process with member states and industry until February 25 before giving its final opinion in May.

Barnier said France would push for a reformed agricultural policy across the bloc which would favor traditional methods of farming and would reject cloning.

(Reporting by Swaha Pattanaik and Tamora Vidaillet; editing by Michael Roddy)

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