UK accused over food labelling
The Government has been accused of ignoring consumer wishes by blocking moves to label meat and milk products which have genetic links to cloned animals.
The prospect of EU-wide rules introducing compulsory labelling ended early on Tuesday when last-ditch talks between Euro-MPs, the European Commission and officials representing Europe's governments ended without agreement.
The commission and member states feared a trade war with Washington if tougher controls came in to highlight produce from the offspring of cloned animals.
But Labour MEP Linda McAvan, one of the European Parliament's representatives during three years of negotiations, commented: "Consumers want to know where the food they buy has come from - and whether animals have suffered unnecessarily to produce it.
"Just look at the example of battery hens, where tough EU labelling laws have helped consumers to understand whether the eggs they buy have been produced under decent animal welfare conditions.
"There has already been at least one outcry in Britain over meat that came from the offspring of a cloned animal entering the human food chain."
She said the breakdown of talks meant cloning would remain a "legal grey area" for years.
At the moment cloning in the UK is used exclusively for research purposes, but current rules do not cover whether the technique can be used for food production.
"I simply don't understand why the British government is leading the charge in trying to stop consumers from knowing whether the meat or milk they buy has come from an animal related to a clone." said Ms McAvan.
The issue caused concern last year when a Scottish farmer was found to be using imported embryos from an American cloned bull to breed animals in the UK. Meat and milk from the animals were sold to the British public.