Monday, October 13, 2008

Europeans say No to cloning for food

Europeans are against animal cloning for food production revealed a survey on Thursday (Oct 9) in Brussels. The study presented by the European Commission found that more than 58 percent Europeans across the European Union are against the animal cloning for food production but 44 percent gave a nod to cloning to preserve rare animal species while 41 percent thought that it may be justified to improve the robustness of animals against diseases.

With 86 percent of respondents sharing the opinion that the food industry would ultimately benefit if animal cloning for food production purposes was allowed while more than 40 percent stated they are "not at all likely" to buy food derived from cloned animals (43 percent) or from offspring of cloned animals (41 percent).

Amongst other issues, almost four out of 10 of those asked (38 percent) believe that none of the potential benefits presented to them (health or economic) would justify breeding cloned animals for food production. Out of those believing that there are benefits to animal cloning, 54 percent expressed the opinion that the procedure might help solve the worldwide food problems. However, 54 percent and 44 percent of the respondent felt that animal cloning would ultimately not benefit either consumers or farmers.

European Commissioner for Health Androulla Vassiliou commented: "The survey provides us with valuable insights into the attitudes of EU citizens toward the use of animal cloning technology for food production. The European Commission has now before it the opinions of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Group of Ethics (EGE) and also the Eurobarometer survey.”

In July, the European Commission received the scientific opinion of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on cloning and earlier this year, the European Group of Ethics (EGE) delivered its opinion on the same subject. EFSA's report gave rise to increased concerns on aspects of animal health and welfare and the EGE raised ethical concerns.


Replying to a European Parliament call last month, “to submit proposals prohibiting (cloning of animals) for food supply purposes,” the Health Commissioner said, “The Commission will now proceed with the analysis of these elements before considering whether and what action may be necessary."

In a debate the European Parliament last month called for a ban in the EU on the cloning of animals for food supply. MEPs also urged an embargo on imports of cloned animals, their offspring and products derived from these sources.

"Not only is it a case of food safety, we in Europe believe that we are producing food quality products", EP Agriculture Committee Chairman British MEP Neil Parish said. "It is also a question of animal welfare and consumer confidence" and there is a "risk of producing less strong and healthy animals.”

Parish said: "Cloning entails serious health and welfare problems for clones and their surrogate dams; animal health problems come from invasive techniques required to produce a clone; there is the suffering of surrogate dams which carry cloned foetuses, and high levels of ill health and mortality in early life for cloned animals. I call on the Commission to submit proposals prohibiting the cloning of animals in the food supply and the placing of cloned animals on the market in meat and dairy products."

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