EU: cloning does carry health and welfare risks
Experts at the European Food Safety Authority have raised serious
questions about animal welfare and food safety in relation to
That became clear at the publication of a final report by the European Food
Safety Authority (EFSA) on the implications of animal cloning for food safety,
animal health and welfare and the environment.
The report was made after
a request from the European Commission in 2007 for advice. Earlier in 2008, the
agency published a draft opinion.
At the moment, there is no European
trade in cloned animals or their offspring. The practice is only used in Europe
for research purposes - hence, products cannot be sold.
emphasised several concerns during the presentation of the report on
â€¢ Animal welfare concerns
The EU's food safety agency,
giving its long-awaited final scientific opinion on animal cloning, said animals
carrying cloned embryos, and their offspring, had significantly higher health
and welfare risks - and cloned animals died earlier.
figures, 40% of the cloned cattle and pigs would die within six months - in
conventionally bred animals, this amounts to 10%.
EFSA's report says:
"The health and welfare of a significant proportion of clones, mainly within the
juvenile period for cattle and perinatal period for pigs, have been found to be
adversely affected, often severely and with a fatal outcome."
information is therefore needed about the susceptibility of clones for disease
transfer. It is thought that premature deaths might result from placenta
â€¢ Food safety concerns
Silano said food safety concerns
for cloned cattle and pigs were considered unlikely but the evidence base, while
consistent, was still small. The agency stopped short of saying cloned meat was
â€¢ Ethical issues
Last year, the European Commission asked
for an opinion on ethical implications of cloning, from the European Group on
Ethics in Science. The group concluded, in the beginning of this year, that the
practise was 'not ethically justified'.
findings contrast with those of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which
concluded this year that such products were safe - although a voluntary
moratorium on marketing them remains in place.
The Europeans seem likely
to take an even more cautious approach similar to that followed with genetically
modified crops - which has led to years of trade friction with the USA. Surveys
show resistance in Europe to biotechnology remains high, especially when it
comes to food.
The EC has launched a survey to learn the public's opinion
on cloning. The results of this survey are expected to be published later this
â€¢ European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA)
â€¢ European Commission (EC)
â€¢ US Food & Drug Agency
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