Cloning conundrum

by MEAT+POULTRY Staff
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The European Parliament extended the EU's cloning ban to livestock.
Cloned farm animals like Fut, South Africa's first cloned cow, will be banned from the European Union. (Photo: AFP)

STRASBOURG, France – Members of the European Parliament on Sept. 8 voted to extend the European Union’s ban on cloned animals to include livestock. In a 529-120 vote, EP members slammed the door on cloning of all farm animals, their descendants and products derived from them, including imports into the EU.

Additionally, the ban covers animals which already are derived from clones. Imports to the EU should only be allowed with accompanying certification that the animal is not a clone or the descendant of a cloned animal. Imports of food and feed of animal origin and animal germinal products also are banned.
“Up to now, we have been able to import reproductive material from third countries,” European Parliament Member Renate Sommer said in a statement. “We are washing our hands letting others do the dirty work.

“We want to ban comprehensively. Not just the use of cloning techniques but the imports of reproductive material, clones and their descendants,” she added. “Traceability is possible. There are pedigree books, breeding books, stock books available. I'd like to ask the European Commission to rethink this whole thing. Sometimes, politics have to set the limits.”

Sommer described cloning technology as “not fully mature” and said no further progress has been made in the segment. Also, reports of poor animal health and welfare of cloned animals in addition to widespread opposition to animal cloning in Europe were contributing factors driving the ban on cloned animals. In 2008, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found that “… low efficiency rates in cloning (6 to 15 percent for bovine and 6 percent for porcine species) make it necessary to implant embryo clones into several dams to obtain one cloned animal. Furthermore, clone abnormalities and unusually large offspring result in difficult births and neonatal deaths.”

“We need to take into account the impact on animal health, but also on human health,” said Giulia Moi who was appointed as a co-reporter on the EP’s agriculture committee. “This report sends the message to our trade partners that we are not willing to put our own health, our families’ health, and future generations’ health at stake using products of dubious quality of this nature.

“Our farmers are currently faced with major competitive pressure from Asia particularly, due to certain practices, including cloning,” she added. “But Europe is based on values and that includes quality. We want to be sure that we don't go down a path from which there is no return.”

The matter now heads to the Council of the European Union which will determine the final text of the law.

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