European Commission Plans Temporary Ban on Livestock Cloning

The European Union’s executive arm plans to propose a temporary ban on livestock cloning in the 27-nation bloc as well as the use of cloned farm animals and the sale of food produced from such sources.

The measures will be reviewed after a five-year period, the European Commission said in a statement on its website today. The commission also called for a system to trace imports of semen and embryos from clones.

The European Food Safety Authority said in July 2008 it found no evidence that meat and milk from cloned cows and pigs differed from other animals. The EU science adviser said there are “significant” animal-health and welfare issues for surrogate mothers and clones.

“The temporary suspension constitutes a realistic and feasible solution to respond to the present welfare concerns,” John Dalli, the EU commissioner for health and consumer policy, said in the statement.

The commission will make a formal proposal to ban livestock cloning next year, spokesman Frederic Vincent said at a press conference in Brussels today. “We believe that our proposal is compatible with the WTO rules,” he said, referring to World Trade Organization regulation.

The proposal is limited to cloning for food use, and wouldn’t affect use of the reproductive technology for research, conservation of endangered species or production of pharmaceuticals, according to the statement.

Imports, trade and use of products from clones are currently covered by general EU regulations, the commission said. Denmark is the only EU member to have imposed a national ban on the use of animal cloning for commercial purposes, the commission said.

The European Parliament in September 2008 urged a ban on any future sale in Europe of food from cloned animals. It also called for a non-binding resolution for a prohibition on EU imports and farming of cloned animals.