Cloning back on the EU agenda
The EU Commission today re-launched a public consultation on the use of meat and dairy from cloned animals.
The cloning of animals causes great suffering both for the cloned animals and for the surrogate mothers that carry them to birth. Cloned embryos tend to be large and, if not miscarried, can result in painful births - a high proportion of which have to be carried out by Caesarean section. Many clones die during pregnancy or birth. Those that survive do not lead a happy life; a significant proportion die in the early days and weeks of life from problems such as heart, liver and kidney failure, respiratory problems and immune deficiencies.
Last year talks on planned EU legislation on cloning collapsed after weeks of debate because the European Commission and the EU Agriculture Ministers refused to agree to the European Parliament's demand for a ban on the sale of meat and milk from clones and their offspring. We reported on it here.
This consultation, which runs until 3 September 2012 will address five scenarios:
retain the current legal framework (Regulation (EC) 258/97 on novel foods and novel food ingredients);
allow the use of the cloning technique in the EU for food production;
temporarily ban food from clones in the EU and set up tracing of imports of clone reproductive materials;
temporarily ban food from clones in the EU and impose mandatory labelling of food from clone offspring and descendants;
temporarily ban food from clones, offspring and descendants.
Compassion would very much like to see a sixth scenario in which cloning is banned altogether. Banning it temporarily as in Scenario 5, does not go far enough.
Peter Stevenson, Compassion in World Farming's Chief Policy Advisor, today responded:
"Cloned meat and milk may, or may not be safe to eat - it's too early to tell. But the issue here is that, for the animals involved, it's a welfare disaster. Many clones die in the early stages of life from heart failure, breathing difficulties and defective immune systems. The European Food Safety Authority has concluded that the health and welfare of a significant proportion of clones are 'adversely affected, often severely and with a fatal outcome'.
"Compassion believes that the UK and the rest of Europe must abandon the cruelties of factory farming and instead introduce forms of animal husbandry that are sustainable and humane. Cloning - with its reckless disregard for the integrity and wellbeing of animals - has no legitimate part to play in the way we feed ourselves."
Compassion believes that:
- the sale of food from clones should be prohibited
- the sale of food from the offspring of clones should be prohibited
- cloning should play no part in Europe's farming. This mean the EU should ban cloning, the use of clones and their offspring on Europe's farms and the import from outside Europe of the semen and embryos of clones.
We are not alone in our views: The Europa Barometer report found that:
- 61% of EU citizens said cloning of animals is morally wrong
- 83% said that special labelling should be required.
The European Commission has said that it will publish proposed legislation on cloning in the next year or two. Compassion believes the debate on cloning must continue.
- Surprisingly, it is the UK Government that is most opposed to banning cloning in EU Farming. Write to Jim Paice, Agricultural Minister and urge him to say "no" to cloning.