EP Press Release, 25 June 2008
At the initiative of its chairman, Neil Parish (EPP-ED, UK), the EP Agriculture Committee called on Wednesday for a ban in the EU on the cloning of animals for food supply as well as an embargo on imports of cloned animals, their offspring and products derived from these sources.
In a draft resolution adopted unanimously on Wednesday, the committee calls on the Commission "to submit proposals prohibiting:
This text, which will be put to a vote by the full Parliament next month, highlights the reservations voiced by several groups of European experts, particularly about the health of cloned animals. In a preliminary opinion delivered in January 2008, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) pinpointed the issues of health, welfare and mortality, which are more acute in this type of animal. For its part, the European Group on Ethics said around the same time that it did not see convincing arguments to justify food production from clones and their offspring, given that current levels of suffering and health problems of surrogate dams and animal clones made this technique ethically questionable.
MEPs also stressed that cloning would significantly reduce genetic diversity within livestock populations, increasing the possibility of whole herds being decimated by diseases to which they are susceptible and that this could harm the image of the European agricultural model, which is based on product quality, environment-friendly principles and respect for stringent animal welfare conditions. They also point out that Directive 98/58/EC on the protection of farm animals bans natural or artificial procedures which are likely to cause suffering or injury to any of the animals concerned must not be practised.
Currently no products derived from cloned animals are sold in Europe or the rest of the world. However, experts believe that such products could reach the market by 2010. A moratorium on the sale of this type of product, introduced in the USA in 2001, was challenged by the US Food and Drug Administration, which concluded in January that meat and milk from clones of cattle, pigs and goats and their offspring are as reliable as those of traditionally bred animals.
In parallel to the vote on this draft resolution, MEPs also adopted a batch of oral questions on animal cloning to which the European Commission will have to reply at the plenary session. MEPs wish to know the Commission's position and any plans it has on this matter.