On January 15th 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its Guidance on food from cloned animals, saying that meat and milk from cloned cattle, goats or pigs "is as safe to eat as that from their more conventionally-bred counterparts".
A calf cloned at INRA, the French agricultural research institute, appeared normal at birth but at 6 weeks old suffered a sudden fall in its level of white blood cells and haemoglobin and died within a week from severe anaemia.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has also recently issued its draft Opinion saying that such products are safe and posed no new or additional environmental risks.
Compassion in World Farming immediately issued press statements condemning these developments, pointing out that we know from published research that around 50% of cloned farm animals die either shortly before birth or within a few days or weeks afterwards. Many are born with malformed lungs, kidneys or other essential organs. The tragic truth is that for every so-called "successful" clone, there has been another who is unable to grow even to puberty and who is likely to have endured misery during its short life.
We also know that cloning technology is likely to be used in conjunction with genetic modification, to replicate GM farm animals. It will also be used to clone the most productive, fast-growing animals, where the most money can be made. EFSA has recently reported that today's pigs have been bred to grow so quickly that they are suffering from painful leg disorders and heart problems at an early age. Yet it is these very fast growing pigs that are most likely to be cloned. Similarly today's dairy cows have been bred for such high milk yields that many suffer from painful lameness and mastitis. Cloning these cows will exacerbate such health and welfare problems.
Consumers are becoming ever more conscious of the ethical provenance of the food they buy. One of their main concerns is animal welfare. We have no doubt that they will reject products from cloned or GM animals or the offspring of clones.
We believe that EFSA and the FDA have failed to take account of the growing global recognition that animals are sentient beings and that it is our responsibility to minimise, not increase, their burden of suffering.
Stop Press News 17th Jan! Today the European Group on Ethics issued its Opinion, saying that it "does not see convincing arguments to justify the production of food from clones and their offspring" and refers to "the current level of suffering and health problems of surrogate dams and animal clones".
This is precisely the argument Compassion in World Farming put to the Ethics Group, when our Ambassador Joyce D'Silva, gave a presentation to them last September.
We hope that the Group's Opinion will strongly influence the final decision on cloning in the European Union.
What you can do
Please write to Androula Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection (in Brussels - 50p stamp), asking for the EU to rule against the use of cloned animals or their offspring in farming or for their sale as food. Please refer to the Opinion of the European Group on Ethics (as above).
Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection
Please also write to your supermarket head office saying you do not wish to buy meat or milk from cloned animals or their descendants and ask the supermarket never to stock such items.
For more detailed information, see:
- For an overview of the welfare problems for animals, see Compassion in World Farming's summary leaflet, Farm animal genetic engineering and cloning ( 25.50KB)
- The gene and the stable door: biotechnology and farm animals ( 453.18KB)