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Compassion objects to cloning farm animals

Compassion is deeply concerned by news reports that BGI (Beijing Genomics Institute) is cloning pigs on an industrial scale in China.

Reportedly, scientists are cloning pigs in order to test new medicines. BGI is the world's largest centre for cloning pigs, as well as the world's largest centre for gene sequencing.

BGI's chief executive Wang Jun reportedly said "If it tastes good you should sequence it."

BGI is investigating the genes of animals for industrial use - for example by increasing yields - the amount of piglets a sow can produce.

Compassion is against cloning animals for food production because cloning entails serious health and welfare issues for animals. There is an increased risk of problematic births when surrogate mothers are carrying cloned offspring. Furthermore, many cloned animals die premature deaths as they have a higher mortality rate than non-cloned animals.

The European Commission has recently proposed new legislation on cloning animals for food production. It suggests that cloning of farm animals and the sale of meat and milk from these animals should be banned. However, the Commission has not extended this ban to the offspring of clones. In addition, meat or milk from the offspring of clones would not have to be labelled, so consumers would not know whether cloning was involved in the food they were buying.

Peter Stevenson, Compassion's Chief Policy Advisor, says "The cloning of farm animals risks perpetuating industrial farming. Clones and their offspring are likely to have very high yields and growth rates leaving them vulnerable to damaging health problems. Cloning is out of step with the growing recognition of the need to respect animals as sentient beings."

Compassion is presenting its objections to the European Parliament. We are calling for a ban on the use of the offspring of clones in EU farming and on the sale of food from the offspring of clones.