I share your concerns over cloning and have watched these developments with concern from my place on the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee. In advance of the plenary vote this Tuesday, 8th September, I would like to let you know of our position and actions on this issue.
The Greens in the European Parliament are deeply committed to animal rights issues and have been at the forefront of the campaign for a European ban on the sale of meat and dairy products from both clones and their descendants. We are extremely concerned about both the ethical and animal welfare implications associated with the cloning of animals, which has been shown to lead to suffering, mortality and genetic abnormalities.
I’m concerned that the introduction of a livestock population that is identical as a result of cloning will reduce genetic diversity. The creation and spread of these genetically identical animals could expose the entire livestock population to a higher risk of disease, potentially wiping out entire herds. Whilst some studies conducted on this topic have come to the conclusion that food from cloned animals is safe for consumption, the long-term health effects of consuming cloned animal products have not yet been fully explored, as most of the studies have been based on limited data. (Please see footnotes below for scientific studies)
Back in June, MEPs voted on this issue in a joint Agriculture Committee and Environment Committee meeting. We Greens were pleased with the results of this vote: MEPs called for a comprehensive ban on cloning, and on the placing on the market of food from clones and their descendants. Several Green amendments were supported, highlighting concerns for biodiversity, insufficient food safety studies and the need to strengthen the precautionary principle. Our food safety spokesperson, Bart Staes MEP, concluded:
“MEPs have today voted for robust EU rules to address the very serious concerns with cloning and the use of clones and their descendants in food production. The committee voted to significantly strengthen the draft law proposed by the EU Commission, upgrading the proposed provisional moratorium to an outright ban and, crucially, ensuring it applies not just to food from clones but also from their descendants, which is where the real threat lies.” You can see more of Bart’s statement here.
This week in plenary, my Green colleagues and I will again vote for complete exclusion of clones and their offspring from the food chain, and for a ban on imports of clones and of food derived from cloned animals.
Many thanks again for getting in touch about this crucial vote. For more information you may also wish to follow the Greens-EFA Food Revolution website, where you’ll find a monthly newsletter and details of our actions on diverse issues, from cloning and GMOs to sustainable fishing and farming.
The scientific studies used are:
- Farin, C.E et al (2015). Abnormal Offspring Syndrome, In Ed: Hopper, R. M. Bovine Reproduction, First Edition. John Wiley, Chichester, Ch 67
- Kirkden, R. and Broom, D. 2012. Welfare of Genetically Modified and Cloned Animals Used for Food
These studies are also the basis for Greens-EFA infographics.
Further studies undertaken by EFSA, Eurobarometer and the Commission can be found via this blog post.
Please also see Compassion in World Farming, 2013: Cloning and genetic engineering of animals for food production