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Last week the European Parliament (EP) 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.
In a resolution adopted by 622 MEPs in favour, 32 against and 25 abstentions, the House calls on the Commission "to submit proposals prohibiting for food supply purposes:
the cloning of animals,
the farming of cloned animals or their offspring,
the placing on the market of meat or dairy products derived from cloned animals or their offspring, and
the importing of cloned animals, their offspring, semen and embryos from cloned animals or their offspring, and meat or dairy products derived from cloned animals or their offspring."
The text refers to the health, welfare and higher mortality problems of cloned animals and their surrogate dams recently highlighted by several groups of European experts. MEPs also stress that cloning would significantly reduce genetic diversity within livestock populations, increasing the possibility of whole herds being decimated by diseases to which they are susceptible.
In addition, the EP fears that use of cloning techniques would harm the image of the European agricultural model.
Commissioner Vassiliou said that the Commission was closely following scientific developments in this area and "is aware that even though the efficiency of animal cloning has improved over the last years, adverse health effects on animal health and welfare still occur today". The Commission takes ethical considerations fully into account", including the opinion of the European Group of Ethics which "advocated that at the moment there are no convincing arguments to justify the production of food from clones and their offspring". "According to global trade rules, imports of food products from third countries might be suspended if they present a serious threat to animal or public health.
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