Any day now, the US government is expected to give formal approval for the sale of meat from cloned animals - probably not labelled as such. Meat from cloned animals or their progeny is expected to be on sale within the next three years.
Cloning in the EU
The European Commission is engaged in debate about whether they should control cloning. CIWF is actively contributing to this debate as we believe cloning is highly detrimental to animal welfare.
Individual animals are sentient beings. Have we a right to use a technology which is likely to cause suffering to many of the creatures involved - especially as this is a technology which many farmers say they don't need or want? Cloning will also be used as a way to multiply genetically engineered farm animals.
It's hard to make cloning work well. Only around 1 in 10 cloned embryos results in live offspring.
Invasive interventions are performed on so-called "donor" females to extract egg cells for cloning. Surgery is usually required to obtain egg cells from the oviducts of pigs, goats and sheep. After the cloned foetuses have been created, they are implanted into "surrogate" mothers. Caesareans are common, as clones grow excessively large in the uterus. Abnormal foetal development and mortality is common with frequent death at various stages of development.
Postnatal suffering and mortality
Many cloned farm animals die shortly after birth. A recent research paper said 20% of cloned calves die within 24 hours of birth and 15% die before weaning. (Laible and Wells 2007) Complications of cloned animals include defects in the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal and neurological systems, as well as susceptibility to lung infections and digestive disorders). These animals have short lives of suffering. Health problems during life - Clones may be more likely to get respiratory problems and have immune system deficiencies compared with normal animals (Wells 2005).
Wastage of life
This includes embryos, foetuses and mature animals - these are killed as part of the procedures. Often the "surrogate" mother animals are killed after giving birth by caesarean section. A stressful operation followed by killing!
Contravening EU Directives
Compassion in World Farming believes that production of cloned animals for farming contravenes the EU Directive 98/58/EC concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes: Annex 21:
"No animal shall be kept for farming purposes unless it can reasonably be expected, on the basis of its genotype or phenotype, that it can be kept without detrimental effect on its health or welfare." In other words, if the animal - in this case the cloned animal - is likely to suffer because of its inbuilt physiological weaknesses, then we shouldn't have such animals on our farms.
On September 24, Joyce D'Silva gives a presentation for CIWF on "Animal Welfare Perspectives on the Ethics of Cloning Farm Animals for Food" to the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies at their "Roundtable on the Ethical Aspects of Animal cloning for food supply".