A group of MEPs has called on the European Commission to prohibit cloning of animals for food.
The move comes just ahead of the closing date for reactions to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Draft Opinion on animal cloning.
Such reactions are likely to increase concerns amongst food manufacturers that the public perception of cloning remains negative. Many are already wary about developments in the cloning arena.
According to Eurogroup for Animals, a body representing animal welfare organisations in European member states, the resolution approved by the MEP Intergroup on Animal Welfare calls on the Commission to submit proposals to prohibit:
- the cloning of animals for food supply
- the farming of cloned animals or their offspring
- the placing on the market of meat or dairy products derived from cloned animals or their offspring
- the import of cloned animals or their offspring, semen and embryos from cloned animals or their offspring, and meat or dairy products derived from cloned animals or their offspring.
Eurogroup says that seventeen of the twenty-four MEPs present at the Intergroup voted in favour of the motion.
Eurogroup for Animals provides the Secretariat for the Intergroup.
Neil Parish MEP, the chairman of the Intergroup is quoted by Eurogroup as saying "I would like to see an EU-wide moratorium brought in immediately to stop food from cloned animals and their offspring from reaching the food chain"
The MEPs are joined in their concerns by the European Group on Ethics and New Technologies (EGE), which said earlier that it does not see "convincing arguments to justify the production of food from clones and their offspring."
It added that "Further ethical, legal and social implications of animals cloning for food supply as well as qualitative studies on public perception should be carried out."
During a recent technical meeting of the EFSA with its Stakeholder Consultative Platform, a report was referred to which highlighted the likely problems to be faced in persuading the public to accept cloned meat products.
It said "Cloned meat is likely to be a controversial issue with the European public, sitting as it does at the nexus of sensitivities around food, animals and the life sciences".
Even if cloned meat is shown to be equivalent to conventional meat "sections of the public will demand labelling" the practicalities of implementing which would be a challenge.
The report went on "In our view it is likely that the focus of public concerns will lean towards cultural taboos and semi-taboos rather than challenges to the scientific evidence".
Reports in the UK newspaper Daily Mail illustrate consumer concerns. The newspaper writes that Britain's "first offspring of a cloned cow" and her sibling are to be sold at public auction "prompting fears that the food chain is open to Frankenstein farming".
The paper notes that "the two animals were the first results of clone farming to be born on British farms, just over a year ago", adding "there is currently no mechanism to stop milk and meat from clone offspring animals from going into the food chain"
Eurogroup says that the Intergroup on Animal Welfare, created in 1983, provides a forum for MEPs for debate and initiating action for a wide range of animal welfare and conservation issues. Where appropriate it takes initiatives that can lead to legislation.
Today is the deadline for responding to the EFSA Draft Opinion.