PARMA, ITALY – The European Food Safety Authority has published a scientific statement on animal cloning following the endorsement of its Scientific Committee. Following a thorough review of the relevant scientific information, E.F.S.A. confirms its previous conclusions and recommendations that among other things, relative to food safety – there is no indication that differences exist for meat and milk of clones and their progeny compared with those from conventionally bred animals.

Other conclusions are:

  • Mortality rates and the number of animals born with developmental abnormalities are higher in animal clones than in conventionally-bred animals.
  • There is still limited information available on cloning of species other than cattle and pigs. At the moment, risk assessment can be carried out only for these two species.

E.F.S.A.’s statement is based on a review of the most recent scientific research on animal clones and their offspring found in peer-reviewed scientific literature published since its previous statement in 2009; information gathered during the recent call for data from European research centers and elsewhere; and further discussions with scientific experts on animal cloning.

E.F.S.A. explains that in animal cloning a genetic copy of an animal is produced by replacing the nucleus of an unfertilized egg cell with the nucleus of a body (somatic) cell from an animal to form an embryo. This technique is called somatic cell nuclear transfer. The embryo is then transferred to a surrogate mother where it develops until birth. Reprogramming of the donor nucleus from the somatic cell – the process that regulates the resetting of the somatic cell nucleus to an embryonic nucleus – is considered the main source of adverse effects that may result in developmental abnormalities of animal clones.