EP News Item, 27 August 2008
Will we soon be eating cloned animals?
Dolly the sheep was the first and most famous animal clone, created back in 1996. Since then, cows, pigs, goats, horses, mice, cats and dogs have also been cloned. So should these animals be used for commercial purposes? Not according to Parliament's Agriculture Committee. In June, they called for an EU ban on the cloning of animals for food. Next week MEPs will question the Commission about the issue during the first September plenary.
The general public first became aware of the cloning with the birth of Dolly - the first cloned animal. But the idea of eating meat or drinking milk from cloned animals is a different issue?
Cloned animals seen in global food chain by 2010
Cloning is not a commercial practice in Europe and as far as we know there are no cloned products in the European food chain, but according to the European Commission, products from clones are "on the verge of widespread commercial use" and are "expected to spread within the global food chain before 2010".
This is an issue of concern for MEPs on the Agriculture Committee. Chairman Neil Parish points to the problems cloned animals suffer. "These animals suffer from many more ailments and generally live far shorter lives. From an agricultural perspective, there are serious questions over the effect of this on the gene pool, making cloned animals far more susceptible to disease." For UK Green Caroline Lucas "the prospect of animals being cloned for food is a hugely worrying one and should be stopped in its tracks."
Commission to be grilled on the issue next week
The committee agreed a series of questions that it will put to the Commission on Tuesday. They are:
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the US Food and Drug Administration have both said that there is no difference in food safety terms between food products from healthy clones and their progeny and healthy conventionally-bred animals. However the chair of the EFSA's scientific committee warned that there is a shortage of data on animal cloning and the European Group on Ethics is opposed on because of the problems suffered by the cloned animals.