Politics / Law

European Commission proposes ban on animal cloning for food production

20.10.2010

Brussels – The European Commission has changed its position concerning animal cloning for food production following strong opposition from the European Parliament against the Commission’s idea to authorise of such food products under the regulatory regime of the EU’s Novel Food regulation. On Tuesday, European Health Commissioner John Dalli presented the Commission’s new strategy. It is set to implement a 5 year marketing ban by law on all food products derived from cloned animals but has many loopholes. According to analysis of the EU’s food watchdog EFSA, food from animal clones is not different to food from non-cloned animals. Consequently, the Commission’s proposal is not based of food safety but on animal welfare and thus excludes food products derived from the offspring of animal clones. Additionally, the Commission proposed allowing cloning for practices such as saving species from extinction, making pharmaceuticals or breeding performance animals like racehorses or fighting bulls. What is important for researchers - importing embryos and semen from cloned animals wasn't banned. „Animal clones "are for researchers, not butchers." explained EU Health Commissioner John Dalli.
The Commission’s proposal came after a broad majority of the members of the European Parliament twice voted against the Commissioners’ initial proposal to allow such food products onto the market after strict safety assessment by the EFSA, which was backed by EU ministers. The new idea, which must be greenlighted by a qualified majority of the MEPs
and European ministers, differs from the US approach. In January 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved cloned animals and their offspring for consumption because they are "as safe to eat as food from conventionally bred animals." But at the same time the USDA implemented a voluntary 5-year-ban on selling meat and milk from clones. Also, it is legal in the U.S. to breed clones and generate food from their offspring.
The idea of the Commission’s proposal is to prevent suffering for animals. In reality cloning is not particularly effective, with many miscarriages and birth defects. Thus, the European Group on Ethics (EGE) recommended not to allow animal cloning for food production by ethical reasons. According to the Commission due to lack of consumer acceptance, there is currently no interest for food producers to produce such foods. But researchers are already creating animals through genetic engineering that are more resistant to diseases and that grow faster.

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