Friday, January 18, 2008

A Report by European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies States Speaks Against Use of Cloned Animals in Food

Group Claims that Negative Effects Should Keep Products Off the Market

Finally a statement not put out by industry.


Europe’s Ethics Panel Says Cloning Harms Animals

Thomas Terry/Associated Press


Published: January 18, 2008

Just days after being told that milk and meat from cloned livestock were safe for human consumption, Europeans were warned Thursday that cloning causes suffering to the animals.

A report by the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies says that the risks of negative effects were grave enough to keep cloned products off the European market.

There are “doubts as to whether cloning animals for food supply is ethically justified,” the group said in a statement. “At present,” the group said, it does “not see convincing arguments to justify the production of food from clones and their offspring.”

The group’s assertions come after a separate preliminary report by the European Food Safety Authority. That group, which advises members of the European Commission and governments, said last Friday that cloned products appeared to be safe for human consumption. The food authority’s definitive report is expected in May.

“Both studies are important, and you can’t say we will favor either one of them,” Nina Papadoulaki, the commission’s spokeswoman on health issues, said Thursday.

The group on ethics consists of 15 experts appointed by the commission and reports directly to its president, José Manuel Barroso. Its mission is to examine ethical questions arising from science and new technologies and to advise on possible legislation to govern those realms.

The group said that surrogates carrying cloned embryos could suffer and that the clones themselves experienced a high rate of disease and other health problems that include increased weight, malformations, respiratory problems, enlarged livers, hemorrhaging and kidney abnormalities.

In cattle, the group’s statement said, about 20 percent of cloned calves do not survive the first 24 hours after birth and an additional 15 percent die before weaning.

Ms. Papadoulaki said the commission would weigh the opinions it had received so far and would soon open a period of public comment. But she was unable to give a time frame for a commission decision on cloned food, or to say whether legislation would be necessary.

Cloning remains expensive, so consumers will be unlikely to find cloned products on supermarket shelves anytime soon, she said. “We don’t believe that someone would make a clone just to slaughter it and make it into steaks,” she added.

The dueling opinions in Europe are circulating as the Food and Drug Administration in the United States has determined such products are safe.

The European authorities are at a more preliminary stage than their American counterparts in assessing cloning and are looking at a broader spectrum of issues before making a decision, Ms. Papadoulaki said.

In its statement Thursday, the group on ethics said assurances about animal welfare, product tracking, public acceptability and steps to preserve domesticated breeds were required before food from cloned animals could be made available in Europe.

The group also recommended further research on species of farm-raised animals, in addition to those covered in the report by the European Food Safety Authority, which dealt only with pigs and cattle.

No comments:

Search for More Content

Custom Search
Bookmark and Share

Past Articles