Clone talks collapse

Talks to agree a new European Union (EU) novel food regulation, which could have banned the use of meat from cloned animals and their offspring collapsed this week.

It means that the current novel foods law, adopted in 1997, remains in force, with no outright ban on using these meats in the EU.

The EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament had been trying to agree a compromise text that ironed out their differences over the cloned animal issue — but they failed.

MEPs offered a compromise allowing cloned offspring meat, but insisting all such products would have a special label. However, the council, which represents member states, said no.

It will now have to be re-tabled by the European Commission and re-debated by ministers and MEPs, which could take years.

Italian MEP Gianni Pittella and Dutch MEP Kartika Liotard said: “We made a huge effort to compromise, but we were not willing to betray consumers on their right to know whether food comes from animals bred using clones.”

Peter Stevenson, Compassion in World Farming’s chief policy adviser, blamed the collapse on pressure from commercial interest groups. He said: “British and other European MEPs have shown themselves to be true champions of animal welfare. The European Commission and the Agriculture Council ran scared of a trade war with the US and chose to ignore reports from their specialist scientific advisers that highlight the animal suffering that is inherent in cloning.

“This debate has become a battle about what kind of future we want for British and European farming. Are we going to move away from factory farming towards an agriculture that respects the well-being of animals and is in tune with nature? Or, are we going to pursue a high tech future that seizes on each new invention that emanates from the biotech laboratories, irrespective of the suffering inflicted on our farm animals, and even though the scientific evidence shows that industrial animal production is an inefficient way of feeding the growing world population?”

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