Farming News - European Commission in plans to restrict animal products from clones

European Commission in plans to restrict animal products from clones

02 Dec 2011

The European Commission is planning to restrict the sale of meat and milk derived from cloned animals. The commission is currently devising new legislation which will either ban outright, or require strict labelling for meat, dairy and other products imported from the descendants of cloned animals.


The process will affect trade with agricultural powerhouses including Argentina, Brazil and USA where prize animals are increasingly cloned. The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported that the EC’s plans are “part of a broader tussle over the future of global agriculture.”


Currently, most EU countries permit the import of meat from cloned livestock, with the exception of Denmark. However, a recent opinion poll revealed 58 per cent of Europeans are opposed to the idea of cloning. Critics state that process of cloning and the associated high death rate are cruel to animals.


Peter Stevenson, policy director at Compassion in World Farming explained, "A significant proportion of clones die in the early stages of life from health problems such as cardiovascular failure, respiratory difficulties and immune system deficiencies.”


According to the US based Biotechnology Industry Organization, although there are currently less than 1,000 cloned farm animals worldwide, the costs of the process are falling and so numbers are rising.


In March, opponents of cloning within the European Union failed to secure a ban on cloned products when negotiations in the European Parliament broke down. Unable to reach an agreement on whether to ban, label or permit products form clones and their offspring, the EU legislators reached a stalemate and the law remains the same as it did in 1997, the year after Dolly the sheep was successfully cloned.


The law currently states that, although clones themselves cannot be used for food, their progeny can be used in animal products for human consumption. Though the talks’ collapse earlier in the year put an end to three years of negotiations, commissioners are expected to draw up new legislative proposals by 2013.  


Following March’s talks, in which the UK under Caroline Spelman opposed banning and labelling, delegation chair Gianni Pittella and novel foods rapporteur Kartika Liotard pledged to continue pushing for stricter regulation. In a joint statement the two said, "It is deeply frustrating that council would not listen to public opinion and support urgently needed measures to protect consumer and animal welfare interests. A commitment to label all food products from cloned offspring is a bare minimum."