PARMA, Italy – A scientific statement has just been published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as requested by the European Commission that considers the latest research on animal clones and their offspring for food production purposes. EFSA reaffirmed findings from its previous work.
Regarding food safety, EFSA ruled there are no indications that differences exist between food products derived from healthy clones or their offspring – particularly meat and milk – from healthy, conventionally bred animals. However, EFSA added it recognizes animal health and welfare concerns continue to be associated with this technology.
EFSA’s latest statement on animal cloning states no new scientific information has emerged since its previous 2010 statement that would require reconsideration of EFSA’s earlier conclusions and recommendations. In addition, new scientific information supports previous findings that:
• Regarding food safety, for cattle and pigs there are no indications differences exist for meat or milk products from healthy clones or from their offspring compared with those from healthy conventionally bred animals. Data on clones of farmed species for food production other than cattle and pigs remain limited and do not allow for the assessment of food safety and animal health and welfare aspects.
• Cloning technology using Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) can produce healthy animal clones, but during the SCNT cloning process animal health and welfare remain a matter of concern primarily because of the increased number of deaths at all stages of development (from the perinatal period until the juvenile stage, as well as mortality through abortion. But these concerns do not affect offspring of clones born through conventional breeding as they appear to develop normally.
• There are no scientific indications from the limited data available that suggests a risk to genetic diversity, biodiversity or the environment from farmed clones when compared to conventionally bred, farmed animals.
• Ongoing research with farmed animals for the optimization of the different steps of SCNT cloning has resulted in more knowledge since EFSA’s last statement on this issue. Limited improvements were shown by some researchers, but so far they have not led to the significant enhancement of the overall efficiency of cloning.