Farm-animal cloning should be banned in the European Union, along with imports of cloned livestock and the sale of food from such animals, the European Commission proposed in a draft law.
The proposal seeks to address worries about animal welfare and other ethical concerns related to use of cloning, the commission, the 28-nation EU’s executive arm in Brussels, said today. Cloning for now is so expensive that its use for food production isn’t viable, according to the agency.
The EU, with a population of more than 500 million people, produces 20 percent of the world’s pork, 11 percent of its beef and accounts for 30 percent of global cheese exports, data from the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization show. The commission said surveys show that most EU citizens disapprove of the use of clones for food production, and they do not want to eat meat from animal clones.
The proposed regulation seeks "to ensure that no cloning for farming purposes will be carried out in the European Union and no such clone will be imported as long as these animal welfare concerns persist," EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg told reporters in Brussels. "It’s a ban on the technique, a ban on imports of the cloned animals themselves and a ban on food, milk or meat from the cloned animals."
The proposal, which needs approval from EU governments and the European Parliament to become law, intends "to prohibit the marketing of clones for food for human consumption," the commission said. "It is not likely that such measures will have a high trade impact."
EU governments in 2011 rejected the Parliament’s demand to ban food produced from the offspring of cloned animals, saying such a move could provoke retaliation by trade partners.
No food-business operator has so far applied for authorization to sell food produced by cloning, the commission said. Risk assessment by the European Food Safety Authority has found no sign that food safety for meat and milk from clones and their offspring was any different from conventionally bred animals.
The U.S., Canada, Brazil, Australia, Argentina and Japan confirmed that animals are cloned on their territories, without being able to indicate to what extent, according to the EU.
The commission is proposing a temporary ban on the use of cloning on farmed animals, as well as a directive ensuring that meat and milk from animal clones is not sold in the EU. The bans will be provisional as the technology is likely to develop and would require future review, the commission said.