That tension is how some analysts explain the drama over the EU’s proposed ban on meat from cloned animals. But with cloning, what consumers care about is simple: ‘What’s in it for me?’
The European Union is at it again, working hard to protect us from ourselves.
Only two months ago, a resolution was introduced in the European Parliament to enact legislation that would ban all farm-based cloning and greatly restrict the importation of cloned animals and products from cloned animals. Since then, despite intense debate and lingering controversy over the measure, the issue of whether to allow the sale of cloned animals and their meat has yet to be resolved.
Last week, according to a reports from EU Business and Bloomberg News, the members of the committee tasked with studying the proposal became embroiled in controversy when some members criticized the proposal because it didn’t impose tough enough restrictions. Some committee members allegedly demanded that the current proposal be withdrawn and a newer, stronger one drafted from scratch.
One of the areas of disagreement was the proposed restrictions on reproductive material from cloned animals, meaning both embryos from inter-bred clones and the offspring of cloned animals. Of course, breeding cloned animals does not produce genetically identical clones; however, the offspring would be very similar to the parents genetically and any offspring would likely be at a greater risk for development of genetic disorders.
As EU Business phrased it, “It would be similar to a situation where two identical twins produced a child.”
Other committee members were reportedly less opposed to the sale of cloned animal offspring or meat from clones. EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg admitted that, “If coupled with an effective labeling campaign, such sales might be permissible.”
In terms of safety, selling (and eating) meat from clones is perfectly fine. The problem, though, is the same one plaguing country-of-origin labeling: logistics.
Segregating and tracking products from cloned animals through the food chain would be a significant challenge, and an expensive one. The infrastructure to track the offspring of cloned animals and then trace the subsequent products and ingredients derived from those offspring is pretty much non-existent.
It’s not like there would be massive tonnage of meat from the offspring of cloned breeding stock, Anyway, but the added costs for even minimal tracking and recordkeeping would be substantial.