Today in the European Parliament I, alongside my fellow Labour MEPs, voted to ban the cloning of farm animals within the European Union.
The comprehensive ban includes the use of cloning for farm purposes of all species, and a ban on food products derived from animal clones and their descendants. The EU has also banned imports from cloned animals from outside the EU.
Public opinion has long been sceptical of animal cloning on both moral and ethical grounds. Many animals that come from cloning die within just a few weeks in a painful and cruel manner. Although not prevalent within Europe at the moment, we have been allowing the import of cloned animal products from outside the EU without taking responsibility for the cruel manner in which they originate.
The European Parliament has pointed to findings by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) from 2008 that the health and welfare of clones are adversely affected, often severely and with a fatal outcome. The resulting low efficiency rates in cloning (6 to 15% for bovine and 6% for porcine species) make it necessary to implant embryo clones into several dams to obtain one cloned animal. Furthermore, clone abnormalities and unusually large offspring result in difficult births and neonatal deaths.
This ban will stop cloning in Europe, and also stop European farmers being undercut by cloning-produced products from around the world.