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10 May 2010 EurActiv

Opposition to food derived from cloned animals re-instated

MEPs have asked the Commission to present a separate legislative proposal on the matter
MEPs have asked the Commission to present a separate legislative proposal on the matter.
Image Credit: Finding Dulcinea.

The European Parliament's environment committee has voted not to authorise the entry of any food derived from cloned animals onto EU markets, putting MEPs on a collision course with the European Commission and the EU's Council of Ministers.

The Parliament's environment, public health and food safety committee reaffirmed yesterday (4 May) the House's first-reading decision to entirely exclude food derived from cloned animals and their offspring from the EU's novel foods regulation.

Instead, MEPs asked the Commission to present a separate legislative proposal on the matter.

The new report follows a 2008 Parliament resolution calling for a ban on cloning for food supply purposes and an embargo on imports of cloned animals, their produce and offspring (EurActiv 04/09/08).

The Commission's initial proposal would have included food derived from cloned animals but not their traditionally-bred offspring. The Council is in favour of including in the regulation food from both cloned animals and their offspring.

The committee's report will be transmitted for approval by the full assembly for a second-reading vote. If it is approved - which is very likely considering the House's past positions on the matter - and the Council sticks to its position, the dossier will be heading for a conciliation procedure.

Risk assessment for 'nanofood'

MEPs also voted to exclude foods produced by nanotechnology processes from the EU authorisation list until they have undergone a specific risk assessment regarding their possible impact on health.

Once approved, all food containing nanomaterials will need to be clearly indicated on the ingredients list, MEPs said.

Ethics

Lawmakers also stressed that "the opinion of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies on the ethical and environmental implications must be sought when necessary" before a product is included on the list of accepted novel foods in the EU.

Positions

Back in 2008, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found no clear safety concerns related to food products from clones of cattle, pigs or their offspring. But its scientific opinion underlined that there was not enough scientific data on the subject and that the practice has major repercussions on animal health and welfare (EurActiv 25/07/08).

The European Group on Ethics for Science and New Technologies (EGE) has also advised against cloning animals for food. In its 2008 opinion on ethical aspects of animal cloning for food supply, it states that "considering the current level of suffering and health problems of surrogate dams and animal clones, the EGE has doubts as to whether cloning animals for food supply is ethically justified" (EurActiv 18/01/08).

A new Testbiotech report prepared for German MEP Martin Häusling (Greens), published on 4 May 2010, concludes that cloning could have adverse human health effects.

German MEP Martin Häusling said "higher rates of infection, along with diseases and malformations in liver and brains of mice, sheep and cows, have been reported".

"Furthermore, these effects could also be detected in subsequent generations of these cloned animals. From a consumer perspective it is alarming that US research has shown in a few cases that even the composition of milk can differ between a cloned and non-cloned animal," he added.

Next Steps

5 July 2010: Second reading in the Parliament plenary.

Source: EurActiv /...

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