The European Parliament voted for a permanent ban on the cloning of all farm animals, the import of cloned livestock and the sale of food from such animals and their offspring, setting up a potential clash with national governments in Europe.
The European Union assembly on Tuesday tightened a 2013 proposal by EU regulators that would provisionally prohibit the cloning of some animals -- cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and horses -- and the sale of animal clones and embryo clones. The proposal two years ago from the European Commission, the EU’s regulatory arm, was less stringent also because it stopped short of covering the offspring of cloned animals.
The draft law will now be scrutinized by EU national governments, which may shy away from the tougher provisions demanded by the 28-nation Parliament. In 2011, during talks on separate rules for “novel foods,” EU governments rejected a demand by the bloc’s Parliament to ban food produced from the offspring of cloned animals, saying such a move could provoke retaliation by trade partners.
“The commission proposal should be strengthened by a adopting a more comprehensive approach to all aspects related to the cloning of animals for farming purposes,” said Renate Sommer, a German member of the EU Parliament, and Giulia Moi, an Italian member, who jointly steered the draft law through the assembly in Strasbourg, France. “Cloning is an issue which is highly sensitive for European citizens.”
The EU Parliament is seeking to use the draft European ban on cloning to bolster Europe’s better-safe-than-sorry policy on food safety. Animal clones are copies created by transferring genetic material into an egg that is then implanted in a surrogate mother, who will give birth to the clone.
The decision-making process on the draft EU legislation could take another year or longer. Any differences between EU governments on the one hand and the Parliament on the other would need to be ironed out in negotiations. The commission plays the role of mediator in such deliberations.