A meeting of the European Parliament’s environment, public health and food safety committee debated the Commission’s reforms, released in December.
The committee has prepared 92 pages of amendments to the proposals, which may later be voted through by the full parliament. “A ban on food from clones is not enough,” an EP statement said at the end of a marathon debating session.
Committee member and British Labour MEP Linda McAvan, criticised the Commission’s proposals because they did not ban the sale and use of clones’ offspring for farming purposes – either already born or embryos. Nor was there a ban on reproductive material from cloned animals, she added. “It doesn’t make sense to ban cloning in the EU if we allow imports from cloned animals. The Commission should withdraw its proposal and come up with a better one,” she stressed.
EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg conceded he might be prepared to allow the labelling of food from cloned animal offspring at a future date.
He and European Parliament members have clashed over labelling on several occasions in the past two years, with MEPs insisting labelling and production methods were essential for consumer information.
And, holding out the prospect of a Commission labelling proposal later on, Borg was clearly hoping it would lead to a softening of the EP’s position on his current proposals. “A labelling provision could be introduced later on,” he said. “But the Commission needs more time to study the issue.”
As for future cloning in the EU, the Commissioner was clear: “We don’t think there’s a need for these food production methods,” he said.
His proposals, he said, were not to do with health issues. The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has cleared cloned meat on safety grounds during four separate inquiries since 2008.
There was no difference in meat and milk produce between ordinary meat and produce from clones, he said. “It’s the ethical aspects of clone production that are the basis of these proposals.” Any draft legislation on labelling will not be put forward until at least 2016, he emphasised.