Cloned food? Not in our kitchens, chefs say
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian
MILAN (Reuters) - If pizza maker Simone Padoan saw a slab of cloned meat in his local supermarket, the Italian chef says he would be too scared to bring it into his kitchen.
Despite statements by Europe's food agency and the main U.S. health agency that cloned food products are safe to eat, Padoan says he won't be serving them in his pizzeria, but will instead make dough from natural ingredients and serve natural beer.
"I would be afraid to use it. Maybe (milk from cloned cows) is healthier than milk that comes from a cow born naturally ... but all this manipulation scares me," he said.
"At least natural products guarantee a natural aspect -- this is how they are, this is how mother nature made them and I promote them for that."
Cloning has been around for years. Dolly the cloned sheep was born in 1996.
But the move by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month to lend its support to meat and milk from cloned animals and their offspring is likely to mean it will soon enter the food supply.
Europe's top food safety agency has also said cloned food products are safe to eat, but has yet to give the green light to marketing cloned food products to consumers.
Chefs at a culinary forum in Milan with Padoan this week said no such products would be appearing in their menus.
"I wouldn't consider it with the knowledge I've got now," said British chef Heston Blumenthal, famed for his scientific approach to cooking.
"We don't know if they're damaging or what damage they do not only to ourselves but also the environment."
SEND IN THE CLONES?
Many consumer and religious groups strongly oppose cloning, which takes cells from an adult and fuses them with others before implanting them in a surrogate mother.
They say scientists do not know enough about its effect on nutrition and biology.
Advocates of livestock cloning say the technology will help produce more milk and lean, tender meat by creating more disease-resistant animals. They insist it is perfectly safe.
Milan chef Carlo Cracco said he would want to know where the cloned animal had come from and how it had been raised.
"Already we have difficulty with normal products that are controlled from start to finish. Can you imagine with these new ones?" he said.
For pastry chef Frederic Bau, using cloned milk in desserts is not even a consideration: "I don't dare even think about it."
It is believed that it will be years before cloning will be widely used and despite the official safety approvals, it may be consumers who determine how widely it is used.
The European Food Safety Authority has opened a consultation process with member states and industry until February 25 before giving its final opinion in May.
(Editing by Chris Johnson)