U.N. body rejects cloning cows, backs organic feed

A U.N. panel on food labeling will recommend against the reproduction of cows by artificially implanting zygotes of cloned cows into the wombs of surrogate mother cows, according to a draft report obtained Monday by Kyodo.

The recommendation may be adopted with other guidelines on food safety at a meeting of the United Nations Codex Committee on Food Labeling to be held in Ontario from May 9 to 12, Japanese sources said.

The committee was jointly formed by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the U.N. World Health Organization.

Another guideline to be proposed for adoption at the Canada meeting will call for giving only organically produced feed to cows, whenever it is possible for farmers to do so, the draft says.

The committee has been trying to devise guidelines for ensuring the safety of beef in the wake of an international outcry over the outbreak of “mad cow disease” in Britain.

The panel is also trying to draw up what it hopes will serve as a universal definition of “organically produced” livestock products, because the accuracy of such labeling has recently come under international scrutiny, the sources said.

Japan’s livestock industry has faced difficulty in securing domestic supply of organically produced feed, so the Japanese government plans to ask the committee to approve of some exceptions to the upcoming guidelines, they said.

As a general rule, the draft proposes defining organically produced livestock products as livestock that were fed only with a range of organically produced feed to be designated by the guidelines.

But the draft calls for allowing livestock farmers to use nonorganically produced feed in a proposed interim period through 2005, on condition that those feeds do not include genetically recombined feeds.

The draft would allow meat from grazing livestock to be recognized as organically produced, so long as at least 85 percent of feed given to those animals is specified by the Codex guidelines as organically produced, it says.

The figure would be at least 80 percent for nonruminant livestock such as pigs, according to the draft.