EFSA finds animal cloning safe

Tuesday, 15 January, 2008

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is launching a public consultation on its draft scientific opinion on the implications of animal cloning on food safety, animal health and welfare and the environment.

The study follows a request from the European Commission (EC) to EFSA for advice on this issue in February 2007. EFSA's opinion will help inform consideration of any future EU measures in relation to animal clones and products obtained from these animals.

Some of the key conclusions of the draft opinion include:

  • Although death and disease rates of clones are significantly higher than in conventionally reproduced animals, healthy clones and their offspring indicate that somatic cell nucleus transfer (SCNT) can be successfully used as a reproductive technique in cattle and pigs. Healthy clones and healthy offspring do not show any significant differences from their conventional counterparts.

  • The health and welfare of a significant proportion of clones are adversely affected, but the proportion of unhealthy clones is likely to decrease as the technology improves.

  • Food products obtained from healthy cattle and pig clones and their offspring, such as meat or milk, are within the normal range with respect to the composition and nutritional value of similar products obtained from conventionally bred animals. Assuming that unhealthy clones are removed from the food chain "” as is the case with conventionally bred animals "” it is very unlikely that any difference exists in terms of food safety between food products originating from clones and their progeny compared with those derived from conventionally bred animals.

  • No environmental impact is foreseen because of animal cloning, but there is only limited data available.

The draft opinion acknowledges that SCNT is a relatively new technology and the available data for risk assessment is limited. Most studies have been of small sample size and the currently available data only allow for an assessment of cattle and pig clones and their progeny.

Comments can be submitted until 25 February 2008. To comment, visit this address.

EFSA will also hold a stakeholder meeting in February and engage in consultation with EU Member States (MS) through its Advisory Forum.

The full text of the opinion is available by clicking here.

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