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Food Safety

Cloning - Citizens' summary

What's the issue?

Cloning is a relatively new technique used to produce genetically identical copies of rare, valuable or high yielding animals.

According to EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, it does not affect the safety or quality of food. However, concerns have been raised about the health and welfare of animal clones and their surrogate mothers.

EU citizens are broadly opposed to cloning for food production, and EU countries say it is not taking place on their territory. Food from animal clones is currently regulated and requires authorisation at EU level under the Novel Food Regulation .

What is being proposed?

The Commission is proposing 2 directives designed to address animal health and welfare problems and EU consumer concerns. They have 3 aims:

  • to ban provisionally the cloning of farm animals (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses) in the EU

  • to ban provisionally imports of animal clones and the sale within the EU of food derived from them

  • to review the applicable legislation in the lightof the EU countries' experience of implementation and on the basis of a scientific review of any improvements in cloning which may emerge

Who will benefit?

  • EU farmers and breeders - EU laws will clarify the legal situation and provide a uniform basis for all those involved in breeding and genetic selection.

  • EU consumers – the directives ban cloning and food production using cloned animals in the EU, and imports of such food.

Why does action have to be taken by the EU?

The EU is best placed to legislate on cloning for farming and breeding purposes. If individual EU countries addressed the issue in different ways,  the working of the single market would be impaired.

The action taken needs to keep the burdens on breeders and farmers and the costs they incur to a minimum, so they stay competitive - without compromising food safety and consumer interests.

When is the proposal likely to come into effect?

12 months after adoption of the EU legislation.