The parliament’s agriculture committee and its environment, health and food safety committee also voted against the sale and import into the EU of germinal products, such as sperm, from cloned animals and their descendants.
And under further amendments that will be presented to the full parliament for a vote, such bans should cover all animal species, not just cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and horses, as initially proposed by the European Commission in December 2013.
The European Parliament’s committees’ vote took the EU executive’s proposal further in terms of what should be banned and how the ban should apply. While the European Commission put forward a ban on cloning of farm animals for food purposes and the marketing of their embryos and products on the EU market, the European Parliament committees wants these to be banned from import into the EU. The Commission did not foresee a ban on descendants of animal clones, but MEPs have now voted in favour of it.
"We cannot wash our hands and say that we don’t do cloning and then proceed to import them," said today Renate Sommer, German centre-right member of the European Parliament (MEP), who is coordinating debates and amendments on the proposed legislation for the environment, health and food safety committee.
Meanwhile the committees also voted for the establishment of a traceability system that would be imposed on importers to aid enforcement of these bans.
While cloning is not used in the EU, some of its main trading partners, such as the US, Canada, Argentina, Brazil and Australia do use the procedure and have warned the EU that the measures it adopts on cloning should not restrict trade in breach of global trade rules.
But the European Parliament was not deterred, Sommer said: "We think that what we have suggested can be implemented in practice without considerable expenditure and we think it is compatible with the international trade agreements and we are not worried about the World Trade Organisation (WTO)," she told GlobalMeatNews.
The Commission proposed the ban in 2013 following European concerns that cloning causes suffering to animals, without creating real benefits for farmers and consumers. It has noted however that, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), meat and milk from cloned animals is not dangerous for consumers.
But the parliament’s agriculture committee coordinator (rapporteur) on the issue, Italian Eurosceptic Giulia Moi, is not convinced: "Until we have 100 per cent certainty that foods derived from cloned animals are safe, we have to reject them, because we have to think about human health," she told GlobalMeatNews.
The draft legislation will be put to a vote at a full European Parliament plenary session this autumn. Its final form will then have to be negotiated with the EU Council of Ministers.