Monday

25th Mar 2019

Dolly scientist rejects cloning for food, as EU talks break down

Long-running EU negotiations on 'novel foods' have ended in acrimony, with MEPs and member states diverging over the issue of labeling food produced from the offspring of cloned animals.

At the same time, the scientist behind the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, Dolly the sheep, told EUobserver by telephone on Tuesday (29 March) that cloning for food is hard to justify.

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

"I really think the idea that eating cloned animals or their offspring would offer a risk to human health is very, very unlikely," said professor Ian Wilmut, of Edinburgh University.

"There is another issue - the production of a cloned breeding stock ... There is no doubt that there is still a difficult birth," said Wilmut, also pointing to potential respiratory problems in cloned animals.

"If you were making cloned animals to make a genetic change to produce a protein that could treat human disease, that might be ethically acceptable. On the other hand, if you were producing more meat, or slightly better quality meat, the advantage would not be very great."

EU talks on the subject broke down at 7am on Tuesday morning (29 March) after 12 hours in the negotiating room, with member states blaming the European Parliament and vice versa.

Both sides coalesced on the need to ban all food products from cloned animals, but failed to see eye-to-eye on the issue of labeling food products from the offspring of cloned animals.

Member states, represented by the Hungarian EU presidency, agreed to labeling on fresh meat products from the offspring of cloned cattle, arguing that other products should first be subject to a feasibility report by the European Commission.

A traceability system for individual cattle already exists in Europe, while a similar system for pigs, for example, is less developed.

As a result, national governments are concerned that onerous new rules would be difficult to enforce, while the commission fears the wider measures could attract retaliation from the EU's trading partners.

MEPs involved in the negotiations insisted however on the need to immediately cover all products under the additional labeling requirement, arguing that EU citizens were concerned by the matter and had the right to know what they were eating.

"Measures regarding clone offspring are absolutely critical because clones are commercially viable only for breeding, not directly for food production," Socialist MEP Gianni Pittella and far-left MEP Kartika Liotard said in a joint statement after the talks broke down.

"No farmer would spend €100,000 on a cloned bull, only to turn it into hamburgers," added the two MEPs leading parliament's negotiating team.

The deadlock brings three years of negotiations to an end, after the commission came forward with draft proposals on 'novel foods' in 2008.

Speaking to journalists later on Tuesday morning, EU health and consumer policy commissioner John Dalli said many aspects which had been agreed between the two sides would now be lost.

"These included a legal definition of nano-materials and their mandatory labeling," said the Maltese commissioner, also pointing to mutual agreement for a centralised authorisation procedure to facilitate innovation from the food industry.

Instead, the EU's 1997 regulation on 'novel foods' remains in place, a piece of legislation that says nothing specifically on cloning or the use of nanotechnology.

While the commission does consider products from cloned animals to be 'novel food', and they therefore require pre-market authorisation, milk from the offspring of cloned animals currently needs no special labeling or permission.

Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem

Romania will move its embassy to Jerusalem, its prime minister has said, shattering the EU line on the Arab-Israeli conflict while the country holds the EU rotating presidency.

Magazine

The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted

It is a divisive 'Brussels bubble' debate: whether to give the European Parliament more of a say on who becomes the next European Commission president. But the issue goes right to the heart of European integration.

Opinion

Russia and money laundering in Europe

After Danske Bank, both the US and the EU need to abandon the principle in bank regulation that it is all right to be a crook as long as you are big.

Agenda

Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK

The UK parliament will likely hold a third vote on the Brexit withdrawal deal next week, determining the UK's departure from the bloc. In the meantime, the controversial copyright reform will be on the EU parliament's agenda.

News in Brief

  1. May admits 'not sufficient support' for third Brexit vote
  2. Orban vows more EU 'information campaigns'
  3. May 'effectively out of power', says Scottish leader
  4. May under pressure to resign over Brexit endgame
  5. Million march against Brexit, five million sign petition
  6. Italy first G7 country to sign China Belt and Road deal
  7. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  8. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks

Magazine

The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted

It is a divisive 'Brussels bubble' debate: whether to give the European Parliament more of a say on who becomes the next European Commission president. But the issue goes right to the heart of European integration.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  2. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  3. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  4. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  5. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  6. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  7. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  8. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us