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European Parliament votes for comprehensive cloning ban

By Rod Addy+

08-Sep-2015

Ministers claimed a majority of EU consumers opposed the use of products from cloned animals
Ministers claimed a majority of EU consumers opposed the use of products from cloned animals

The European Parliament has banned the use of products from all cloned farm animals and their descendants, including imports and use of food from the descendants of cloned livestock.

The vote, which took place at a plenary session of the parliament today (September 8) strengthened the European Commission’s (EC’s) previous anti-cloning stance, which allowed for some imports.

The legislative report was adopted by 529 votes to 120, with 57 abstentions. Parliamentary officials will now start negotiations with the Council of the EU on the final shape of the law.

“The technique of cloning is not fully mature, and in fact, no further progress has been made with it,” said the environment committee co-rapporteur, Renate Sommer.

“The mortality rate remains equally high. Many of the animals which are born alive die in the first few weeks, and they die painfully. Should we allow that?

“Up to now, we have been able to import reproductive material from third countries. We are washing our hands letting others do the dirty work. We want to ban comprehensively. Not just the use of cloning techniques but the imports of reproductive material, clones and their descendants.

Traceability

“Traceability is possible. There are pedigree books, breeding books, stock books available. I'd like to ask the European Commission to rethink this whole thing. Sometimes, politics has to set the limits.”

Agriculture committee co-rapporteur Giulia Moi said parliament needed to account for the potential impact on quality and human health of consumption of products from cloned animals.

The high mortality rates associated with cloning raised significant animal welfare and ethical concerns about use even of the descendants of cloned animals, argued Ministers of the European Parliament (MEPs).

MEPs also referred to consumer research findings indicating that a majority of EU citizens strongly opposed the consumption of food from animal clones or from their descendants.

Ethical grounds

Responses indicated that the majority also disapproved of the use of cloning for farming purposes, on animal welfare and general ethical grounds, they said.

The vote now looks set to be enshrined in a regulation directly applicable to all Member States.

Monique Goyens, director general of The European Consumer Organisation, said: “We are delighted that the European Parliament has listened to consumers’ concerns about cloning.

“MEPs have fixed the flaws in the inadequate draft law, which failed to ban the import of clones’ descendants or food deriving from these animals. Banning food from clones whilst allowing food from their descendants to reach consumers’ plates would be fooling the 70% of Europeans who discourage cloning for food supply.

‘Unimpressed by threats’

“It is heartening that MEPs were unimpressed by threats of a trade war if the EU were to pass strong laws on cloning. While abiding by its trade obligations, the EU must remain free to adopt regulations that meet its citizens’ expectations. We now look to the Commission and Member States to likewise pay heed to EU consumers’ concerns about cloning.”

Eurogroup for Animals, which has been calling for a ban, welcomed the result.  

“The Commission proposals adopted in 2013 did not go far enough,” stated Reineke Hameleers, director of Eurogroup for Animals. “Today’s vote is a strong signal to the EU that its citizens, represented by the European Parliament, call on the EU to introduce a comprehensive ban on cloning and on the placing on the market of food from clones and their descendants.’’

We now call on the EU to stand firm and prevent the sale and import of food from cloned animals and their offspring, respecting the wishes of Europe’s citizens by properly amending the proposed legislation quickly. It is essential that this legislation is finalised as soon as possible and then introduced immediately across the EU.”

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