Food Law News - EU - 2010

EP Pleanary Debate, 8 September 2010

CLONING - European Parliament hears Commission statement on animal cloning for food production and debates the issue

The House held a debate, following on the Commission statement, on products from cloned animals in the food chain.

The debate was not followed by the adoption of a resolution.

The following is the text of the initial statement by Commissioner Dalli:

John Dalli, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, honourable Members, I am glad to have been offered this opportunity to set out where the Commission stands on the sensitive issue of animal cloning for food production.

First, I should underline that there is no evidence of any food safety concerns regarding foods obtained from cloned animals. There are, however, some animal welfare issues that require further consideration. Such concerns are nevertheless likely to decrease over time, as the technique evolves and improves. There is, of course, an ethical dimension to this issue, which, I should add, lies outside the EU’s legislative remit. Other considerations in the general debate on this issue are consumers’ rights to know about production processes, and the likely trade implications of taking measures in this area.

The most important issue for the Commission is to assess the need, feasibility and proportionality of possible measures to regulate the use of the cloning technique and of cloned animals and products. Naturally, I am fully aware of Parliament’s position on the use of cloning technologies for food production in Europe. Honourable Members would like to see a ban extended to the offspring of cloned animals.

The Commission position is that foods from cloned animals should not be put on the market without prior authorisation, as they are considered novel foods, and indeed are currently covered by the Novel Food Regulation. It is worth adding that, given the value of cloned animals, it is highly unlikely that they would be used directly for food purposes.

The situation with regard to the offspring of cloned animals is, however, rather different. Such animals cannot be distinguished from those of conventional lineage. This aspect also has to be taken into consideration in any line of action the Commission may propose.

Turning to the current position, the Commission acknowledges that the Novel Food Regulation is not the appropriate legal framework for addressing all aspects of the cloning issue. In particular, the production and marketing of products other than food – such as ova, sperm or embryos – cannot be covered by the Novel Food Regulation, which deals exclusively with the pre-market authorisation of food products.

As honourable Members will know, we are currently putting together a report which will cover all aspects of the use of cloning for food production. That report will be made available in November. It will serve as a useful basis for future discussions among the institutions.

I look forward to continuing discussions with both Parliament and the Council with the aim of reaching a successful agreement.

The EP debate then followed and can be read at:

At the end of the debate, Commission Dalli stated:

 John Dalli, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, I am not surprised that this issue has attracted so much attention and debate and I thank all of you for expressing your views. The various points which have been raised show the need for a deep understanding of these issues so that we can take informed and proportionate decisions.

As I said in my opening statement, the Commission plans to adopt later this year a comprehensive report setting out the key issues which contribute to the cloning debate. I hope that this will serve to add clarity to this complex issue and will prove useful as a basis for the institutional debates and discussions that will follow.

I emphasise that an improvement in the current situation can only be achieved through consensus amongst all EU institutions. This debate has been going on since January 2008, and I look forward to us making progress together on this issue, with the ultimate aim of agreeing on a practical way forward which will serve us well in the years to come.

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