Cloning is bad for animals. We have long been saying this and now the European Food Safety Authority have agreed in their latest scientific opinion on cloning that cloning entails severe health and welfare problems.
The EFSA opinion shows that cloned foetuses are often larger than normal; this leads to difficult births and often to caesarean deliveries. Many clones die during pregnancy. Of those that survive, many die in the early weeks of life from heart and liver failure, kidney abnormalities and respiratory problems.
EFSA's opinion fully vindicates Compassion in World Farming's view that the cloning of animals and the marketing of food from cloned animals or their offspring should be prohibited. Together with RSPCA and Eurogroup of Animals we're calling on the European Commission to listen to this advice and ban cloning for good.
The EFSA report states "The health and welfare of a significant proportion of cloned animals have been found to be adversely affected, often severely and with a fatal outcome."
Its evidence was found in a recent study of cloned piglets in which 27 out of 40 died in the period shortly before or after birth from a variety of health problems including diarrhoea, meningitis and heart abnormalities. A study of cattle clones found that a mean of 30 per cent of the calf clones died before reaching six months of age due to a wide range of pathological causes, including respiratory failure, abnormal kidney development and liver disease.
A third study in 2007 summarising five years of commercial experience of cloning cattle in three countries showed that on average, 42 per cent of cattle clones died between delivery and 150 days of life.
And its not only the cloned animal that suffers but EFSA also state; "the difficult births that are common with cattle clones carry "the risk of unrelieved "extra" pain during birth due to the large offspring. If the surrogate dam has to have a caesarean section then that itself carries the risk of pain and anxiety due to the procedures involved, including a failure to provide adequate post-operative pain relief."
The European Commission must now take its own advice, open its eyes to the evidence and ban cloning of animals for farming.
Please write to the Rt Hon Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Tell him that now the EFSA report has spelled out the great suffering caused to animals by cloning, the UK should drop its support for cloning. Instead the UK should take the lead in persuading our EU partners to ban the cloning of animals and the marketing of food from cloned animals or their offspring.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
17 Smith Square
London, SW1P 3JR