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MEPs call for ban on cloning animals 22.02.08

European parliamentarians are calling for the European Union to ban cloning of animals for food and any products derived from their offspring.

Members of the European Parliamentary Intergroup on Animal Welfare voted in favour of a motion for a resolution to be presented to Parliament. The resolution urges the European Commission to prohibit cloning of animals for food and any products from cloned animals and their offspring.

The European Union is currently considering whether to approve animal cloning for food production. The European Food Safety Authority is conducting a public consultation on its draft opinion on cloning for food until 25 February.

Caroline Lucas, Green MEP said: "The prospect of animals being cloned for food is a hugely worrying one and should be stopped in its tracks. From an animal welfare perspective, it’s clear that this process causes serious suffering and may already be illegal.

"Directive 98/58 clearly states that ’breeding procedures that cause or are likely to cause suffering or injury to any of the animals concerned must not be practised’. Moreover, the impacts on human health are still unknown.

"Clearly the only reason to pursue animal cloning is to increase corporate profits."

The resolution “Calls on the Commission to submit proposals to prohibit (i) the cloning of animals for food supply, (ii) the farming of cloned animals or their offspring, (iii) the placing on the market of meat or dairy products derived from cloned animals or their offspring and (iv) the import of cloned animals or their offspring, semen and embryos from cloned animals or their offspring, and meat of dairy products derived from cloned animals or their offspring.”

News of the draft motion has been welcomed by animal welfare organisation Eurogroup for Animals, which provides the secretariat for the Intergroup and also favours an immediate ban.

Director Sonja Van Tichelen said: “We are delighted the European Parliament is having an open debate on this issue. Cloning is something that will affect all of us, so people need the chance to have their say on the basis of all the facts.

“Cloning is an incredibly wasteful way of producing food, and causes suffering and harm to animals at every stage of development.”

Cloning has been proved to be an inefficient practice that requires the loss of many animal lives just to produce one successful clone. Scientists have found that the ones who do survive suffer more defects and die much earlier than non-cloned animals.

Only 8% of sheep involved in a cloning process result in a viable offspring or embryo transferred. For cows this is 15-20%. Goats less than 3%, pigs 3-5%, rabbits less than 2%, mice less than 2%, horses less than 1%, and deer less than 1%.

The European Group on Ethics, which advises the European Commission, said in its final opinion published on 17 January that it “does not see convincing arguments to justify the production of food from clones and their offspring”.

If the European Union were to approve cloning for food, products from cloned animals and their offspring could be on the market within the next few years. Once these products have been allowed, it will be difficult to identify them as being from cloned animals and their offspring.

Peter Shield

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