Cloned animals confusion

19 December 2013

The European Commission's new proposed legislation on the cloning of animals for food production, suggests that cloning of farm animals and the sale of clones should be banned as should the sale of meat and milk from these animals.

However, the Commission refuses to extend its ban to the offspring of clones.

Peter Stevenson, Compassion in World Farming's Chief Policy Advisor, says: "It's a cynical proposal designed to fool the public into thinking the Commission is tackling cloning.

"In fact, it will be allowing the offspring of clones to be used in EU farming and insisting that consumers will have to swallow meat and milk from the offspring of clones. This food won't even be labelled."

Clones will be used as elite breeding animals; they will not primarily be reared for their meat and milk. It is their offspring that will be farmed for meat or milk. By allowing the offspring of clones to be used on EU farms and their meat and milk to be marketed the Commission is simultaneously saying:

  • to the public, that cloning is so inhumane that it will be banned in Europe
  • to farmers that they may enjoy the fruits of cloning as long as it is not carried out in Europe - but it's fine for EU farmers to import the offspring or semen of clones from countries such as the US
  • to consumers that they will have to eat meat and milk from the offspring of clones whether they like it or not as the Commission refuses to require this food to be labelled.

Peter says: "The Commission's proposal is actually a backwards step from the discussion that occurred two years ago. At least then, they were planning to require food from the offspring of clones to be labelled as such. Now consumers won't even know if they are eating such food."

Scientific Opinions by the European Food Safety Authority show that cloning entails serious health and welfare problems for both cloned animals and the surrogate mothers who carry them to birth. Many clones die early in life from problems such as cardiovascular failure, respiratory difficulties and defective immune systems.

Peter adds: "This, ultimately is a debate not just about cloning, but about what kind of farming we want in the EU. What future do we foresee for European farming? Is it to be increasingly intensive and focusing on ever higher productivity, even though conventional selective breeding for high milk yields and rapid growth has already led to major health problems for the animals involved? Or is it to be humane and sustainable? The real issue has currently been side-stepped."

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