SOURCE: Daily Mail, UK
DATE: 03.09.2008

Animal welfare groups have welcomed calls by the European Parliament for an EU-wide ban on meat and dairy products from cloned animals.

European MPs raised concerns over the health and welfare of cloned animals and the impact it would have on the image of high quality farming in Europe.

A resolution supported by 622 MEPs urged a ban on cloning animals for food or farming or putting meat or dairy products from cloned livestock or their offspring on the market.

The resolution also demanded an embargo on importing cloned livestock, their offspring, semen or embryos and meat and dairy products from them.

Currently, no products from cloned animals are sold in Europe or the rest of the world, but it is expected they could reach the market by 2010.

The Parliament's Agriculture Committee Chairman, the UK's Neil Parish said the process involved 'serious health and welfare problems' for clones, including high levels of ill-health and early mortality.

The MEPs said cloning could also reduce the genetic diversity of herds, making them more susceptible to disease.

The move was welcomed by animal welfare groups who warned that cloning inflicted 'untold suffering' on livestock.

The RSPCA's senior scientist Dr Nikki Osborne said: 'This is excellent news - the RSPCA has been calling for a ban on cloning for food production for several years.

'Cloning causes untold suffering to the animals in the process, and is purely for commercial benefit.

'The RSPCA believes that the cost in terms of animal welfare in no way justifies any perceived benefits of cloning.

'Given public concern about food safety and animal welfare, we are at a loss as to why it's ever been considered.'

Joyce D'Silva of Compassion in World Farming said: 'We know from published research that around 50 per cent of cloned farm animals die either shortly before birth or within a few days or weeks afterwards.

'Many are born with malformed lungs, kidneys or other essential organs.

'The truth is that for every so-called 'successful' clone, there has been another who is unable to grow even to puberty and who is likely to have endured misery during its short life.

'We also know that cloning technology is likely to be used in conjunction with genetic modification, to replicate GM farm animals.

'It will also be used to clone the most productive, fast-growing animals, where the most money can be made. This tends to also be where the most animal welfare problems exist.'

The debate over these kind of products was reignited in January when US regulators said cloned meat and milk were as safe as food from conventionally-bred animals.

A report from the European Food Safety Authority in July said there was no indication that cloned animals would pose food safety or environmental risks compared to conventional meat and dairy products.

But it warned there were potential adverse health effects which could cause problems for the clones, including developmental abnormalities.

Today the EU Commissioner for health and food safety, Androula Vassiliou, said the Commission was aware there were still health problems for cloned animals and was considering whether restrictions should be imposed.