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Thursday 27th June 2019

EU concerns over cloned meat

22nd March 2011

Governments in the European Union have still not reached a consensus about how to approach the issue of cloned animal meat.


Delegates from EU countries met recently to discuss the implications of the sale and distribution of such meat, which may have implications for public health.

Scientists cannot be certain that a public health disaster will not arise from cloned meat, much in the same way as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) arose from livestock industry practices.

When bioengineers genetically modify plants and animals, they currently do not know the human health effects of the genes they remove or insert.

Although some headway has been made on the issue of regulating cloned animal meat, European MPs did not fully ban the sale of meat from cloned animals, on the sale of meat from the offspring of cloned animals.

Some European MPs are of the opinion that first-generation cloned animal meat and second-generation cloned animal meat should not be bracketed the same, since second-generation cloned animal meat cannot be scientifically distinguished from completely organic, non-GM animal meat.

Representatives from the European Parliament accused EU governments of turning a blind eye to ethical and welfare concerns.

Currently, scientists are only able to clone one-fifth of all animals in a manner that lets the animals live full lives.

Four fifths of the clones produced by science die before reaching adulthood.

Last year, a Scottish dairy farm attempted to sell cloned beef, and some British supermarkets reacted by pledging not to sell such meat.

EU lawmakers and governments have about a week left to decide how they feel about the possible regulation of cloned animal meat, and a final round of negotiations is set to occur in a few days.

Animal cloning has garnered unparalleled support in the US, and officials from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have given the green light to cloned animal meat.

According to Eurobarometer, an opinion poll designed to get a pan-European group consensus, the majority of EU citizens are opposed to the idea of eating cloned animal meat for ethical reasons.

Veterinarian Don Coover, president of  Kansas-based SEK Genetics, said people in the European Union needed to know that scientists could not place guarantees on food to the effect that it was free from clone offspring.

He said he strongly discouraged governments from regulating cloned meat, that he believed the food industry should be able to regulate itself, that the advantage of cloned meat should be obvious to people, and that the biotechnology revolution would benefit people as much as computers had.

According to the European Commission's report on animal cloning, the US is home to three major biotechnology companies which have outstripped other companies worldwide in terms of animal cloning.

The response of governments around the world to the advent of biotechnology has varied widely.

In Argentina, biotechnology companies have successfully penetrated the consumer market, while in Brazil cloning is only allowed for research purposes.

The Chinese government has been particularly keen to import cloned animals from other countries.

In Japan, there is a moratorium on the domestic production of animal clones for any purpose whatsoever, though the government has decided not to place regulations upon cloned animal meat.

The Canadian government has set up a case-by-case system for the inspection of cloned food.

In New Zealand, clones are officially prohibited from entering the food chain.

The technology used to clone animals is still under development, and it is costly to produce a cloned animal.

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