Cheaper beef but at the risk of a consumer backlash is the ambiguous implication of a technical breakthrough announced at the Royal Show. Livestock breeding specialist Cogent has begun selling sexed cattle semen, claiming the British industry is the first in the world offering farmers and processors a commercial way of choosing steers or heifers right at the beginning of the production chain. In theory this should cut cost and boost value throughout the system by allowing milk producers, for instance, to rear no more dairy breed heifers than they need as replacement dairy cows and kick off all the other lactations with beef cross bull calves for fattening as premium steers if these are what the market wants. However Cogent admits tight supply will delay the economic impact and others in the industry fear consumers will believe the technique is too much like genetic engineering. {{MEAT }}