European Commission must ban animal cloning for food production
Following publication of a consultation on measures on animal cloning for food production in the EU, Eurogroup for Animals – of which OneKind is a member – has called on the European Commission to ban the cloning animals for food production.
The consultation, which runs until 03 September 2012, is intended to collect views on the acceptance of the technique and the introduction of EU measures on animal cloning for food production, as well as economic, social and environmental impacts in EU and non-EU countries.
The Commission is examining possible measures on animal cloning for food production so that it can propose legislation for adoption in 2013. Currently, food from cloned animals requires authorisation before being placed on the EU market although this does not apply to foods from the offspring of cloned animals. The impact assessment will also examine measures on pre-market approval, traceability and labelling of food from offspring and their descendants
Eurogroup states that a ban on cloning animals for food production and on the sale of imported food products from cloned animals and their offspring is the only option and clearly represents the views of Europe’s citizens. A Eurobarometer survey on citizens’ views on cloning for food production in July 2008 found that a majority (58%) of EU citizens were not willing to accept animal cloning for food production, while three quarters agreed that there were ethical grounds for rejecting animal cloning and almost as many (69%) agreed that animal cloning would risk treating animals as commodities. A majority said it was unlikely that they would buy meat or milk from cloned animals even if a trusted source stated that such products were safe to eat, and 83% wanted food products from cloned animals to be labelled as such, if they ever made their way onto the market.
On 3 September 2008, MEPs adopted a resolution calling for a ban on the cloning of animals and a ban on the trade of food products from cloned animals. And in 2010, the Commission itself proposed to suspend the use of the cloning technique in the EU for the reproduction of all food-producing animals; the use of clones of these animals; and the import of clones and marketing of food from clones.
Eurogroup is concerned that the routine use of cloning would greatly reduce genetic diversity within livestock populations, increasing the chances of whole herds being wiped out by disease. Promoting cloning of farm animals would also go against the rural development objective of conserving genetic diversity in farm animals.
A European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinion in 2008 acknowledged the many animal health and welfare concerns associated with the cloning of animals for food production, including an increase in failed pregnancies and increased frequency of problems during pregnancy, and higher mortality and morbidity of clones than in sexually produced animals.
Cloned animals die younger and suffer more defects than normal animals. Many clones suffer from defects such as contracted tendons, respiratory failure, limb and head deformities, heart disease and kidney problems. Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell, had to be put down at the early age of six after developing arthritis and lung disease.
Eurogroup and OneKind are disappointed therefore to see a renewed focus on regulating, rather than banning, cloning for food production. Eurogroup has also demanded that the European Commission comes forward with clear legislation to enforce a ban and ensure that no products from cloned animals or their offspring are put on the European market.
Sonja Van Tichelen, Director of Eurogroup for Animals, said:
“Farm animals are already seen by some as commodities rather than sentient beings and cloning compounds this view, resulting in less concern for animal welfare and less willingness to address welfare issues. The cloning of animals for use in food is completely unethical and unnecessary. We are convinced that banning these products from our markets is possible and in line with international trade rules.”
The Commission consultation can be seen at: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/dgs_consultations/animal_cloning_consultation_en.htm