The European Commission has reportedly proposed a five-year ban on animal cloning for food production in the European Union (EU), but stopped short of prohibiting meat and milk from clone offspring. According to an October 19, 2010, Europa press release, the plan would also suspend “the use of cloned farm animals and the marketing of food from clones,” while envisaging “the establishment of a traceability system for imports of reproductive materials for clones, such as semen and embryos of clones.”

In issuing its decision, the Commission stressed animal welfare concerns but also noted that “there is no scientific evidence confirming food safety concerns regarding foods obtained from cloned animals or their offspring.” It emphasized that the proposal would not suspend cloning “for uses other than food, such as research, conservation of endangered species or use of animals for the production of pharmaceuticals.” As Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli stated, “The Communication adopted today is a response to calls from the European Parliament and Member States to launch a specific EU policy on this sensitive issue. I believe that the temporary suspension constitutes a realistic and feasible solution to respond to the present welfare concerns.”

Meanwhile, the Commission’s failure to include clone offspring in the ban has already drawn criticism from European Parliament Vice President Gianni Pitella, who called for “a moratorium—as soon as possible—to guarantee consumer protection in this sector.” Dalli, however, expressed hopes that the compromise would resolve a deadlock among the European Council, Commission and Parliament on the issue of novel food regulations, which govern the use of food and food ingredients that were not “significantly used for human consumption within the EU” before May 15, 1997. He also confirmed that a report on cloned livestock will be delivered to the European Council by the end of 2010. See the Daily Mail, EurActiv, Law360, and Telegraph, October 19, 2010; Meatingplace and The Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2010.