Saturday

22nd Sep 2018

MEPs call for ban on animal cloning for food

MEPs have called for a European ban on the cloning of animals for food in a resolution passed on Wednesday (3 September) by 622 votes to 32, with 25 abstentions. The members also pushed for an embargo on the import of cloned animals, along with offspring and any cloned food products.

Concerns focused on the high mortality rates of cloned animals.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • MEPs are concerned that cloning is harmful to animal welfare (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

"Cloning is an incredibly wasteful way of producing food, requiring the loss of many animal lives just to produce one successful clone," Green MEP Caroline Lucas told EUobserver. "It has been shown that the animals who do survive suffer more defects and die much earlier than non-cloned animals.

"Only eight percent of sheep involved in a cloning process result in a viable offspring or embryo. For cows this is 15-20 percent," she added, "goats less than three percent, pigs three to five percent, rabbits less than two percent."

Protagonists on both sides of the debate acknowledge that cloned animals are faced with a wide range of health problems, with a high death rate and a high incidence of disease.

Clones commonly suffer from premature ageing, enlarged tongues, squashed faces, intestinal blockages, immune deficiencies, diabetes, heart, lung and liver damage, kidney failure and brain abnormalities.

Surrogate mothers are also burdened with significant suffering and a high death rate, in particular as a result of "large-offspring syndrome."

"From an animal welfare perspective, it's clear that this process causes serious suffering, and may already be illegal," continued Ms Lucas. "European law actually states that 'breeding procedures that cause or are likely to cause suffering or injury to any of the animals concerned must not be practiced'."

The parliamentarians were also afraid that cloning would reduce the genetic diversity of livestock, with the Center for Food Safety (CFS) - an American NGO - saying the patenting of cloned offspring raises concerns that corporations such as Monsanto will control entire breeds.

With the production of identical animals, the CFS argues, the lack of genetic variability means that disease could affect all animals in a herd simultaneously, wiping them out entirely.

Science and religion

The near unanimity of the European Parliament on the issue reflects the scientific concerns of Green and left-of-centre MEPs and the moral and religious issues that see conservatives argue the cloning of animals is "playing God."

The UK conservative MEP and parliament agriculture committee chairman, Neil Parish, emphasised health and safety worries, however. "The problems with cloning concern not only the welfare of animals but also consumer confidence in food that may come from cloned animals," he said.

The chamber also requested that the European Commission develop proposals prohibiting cloned animals and the food they produce. During a debate on Tuesday evening ahead of Wednesday's vote, MEPs questioned the European Commission on its position and its plans regarding animal cloning.

In answering the MEPs' questions, Androula Vassiliou, the commissioner for health and food safety, seemed open to their views.

"There are no convincing arguments to justify the production of food from clones and their offspring," said the commissioner.

"According to global trade rules, imports of food products from third countries can be suspended if they present a serious threat to animal or public health. On the basis of the studies conducted and the opinion of EFSA, the commission will consider whether restrictions must be imposed," she added.

Previous studies

In January, the European Food and Safety Agency (EFSA) declared cloned food to be safe to eat or drink. Then, the following Tuesday (15 January), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its own opinion, also declaring cloned food safe for consumption.

But two days later the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technology (EGE), the commission's advisory group charged with consideration of ethics in science and technology, issued another report, which had "doubts as to whether cloning animals for food supply is ethically justified."

Currently no products derived from cloned animals are sold in Europe or the rest of the world. Experts believe such products could reach the market by 2010.

Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

The justice commissioner says the accommodation-rental website will better inform users about prices, and about the legal status of their 'hosts'. Facebook, however, could face sanctions if it doesn't comply with EU rules.

'Every group split' ahead of EU copyright vote

Political groups in the European Parliament are split about how to vote for a directive that would reform the EU's copyright regime - amid warnings that freedom of expression and creators' rights are at risk.

Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

The justice commissioner says the accommodation-rental website will better inform users about prices, and about the legal status of their 'hosts'. Facebook, however, could face sanctions if it doesn't comply with EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us