On Wednesday the European Union (EU) voted on legislation that will ban cloned meat and other animal products in the European food supply. The legislation will meet its final hurdle in the hands of the ministers of the 27 EU member states. In September these governments will finalize the rules of the bill with EU legislators.

Corinne Lepage, a French member of the European Parliament, explained that, “Although no safety concerns have been identified so far with meat produced from cloned animals, this technique raises serious issues about animal welfare, reduction of biodiversity, as well as ethical concerns,” reported the New York Times.

These concerns stem from the reality that many cloned animals suffer higher rates of infection, tumor growth, and other disorders. Many cloned animals are abnormally large, and over 90 percent of cloning attempts fail. The cloned animals that do survive often die unusually young from undetermined causes.

Currently cloned animal products are not allowed to be produced in the EU but there is no regulation of imports. FarmingUK.com reports Stewart Stevenson, a member of the Scottish Parliament, commenting on cloned animal products, “This is an outrageous situation where we have imposed strict controls on our own industry but have no way of ensuring imports meet the same rigorous standards. We currently import billions of pounds worth of meat every year from the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, and elsewhere, where cloning is widespread with few regulatory controls. Some of this meat could be from first generation cloned animals. We simply have no way of knowing.”

He concluded, “I am therefore delighted that a big majority of MEPs supported a call for the Commission to produce an urgent resolution on cloned imports while in the meantime banning all meat imports from outside the EU unless they can be accompanied by a certificate. We have no desire to trigger a trade war with countries outside the EU, but they have to realize that their exports must comply with the same standards we apply to our own home-grown products. There must be a level playing field.”

Scottish legislators are not the only politicians outraged at animal cloning. Many politicians in the U.S. have called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture to do additional research on cloned products.  A number of U.S. companies voluntarily committed to banning cloned animal material in their foods. These companies include Kraft Foods Inc, General Mills Inc, Campbell Soup Co, Nestle SA, California Pizza Kitchen, Inc. and Supervalu, Inc., as reported in Reuters Magazine. 

Stewart Stevenson claims that the U.S. has few regulatory controls on cloned animal products, and he is not far off.  Back in 2008, after five years of research, the FDA released a report declaring that meat and milk from cloned animals is as safe for commercial consumption as the meat and milk of naturally born animals. Based off these studies, the FDA lifted the moratorium on cloned food and formally allowed cloned meat and dairy into the American food supply.

The FDA does not demand that cloned products be labeled, so today consumers have no way of knowing if we are buying cloned meat or milk. In September of 2008 Reuters reported that the FDA announced that cloned animal products had probably entered our food supply and were impossible to track or identify.

Though members of the Scottish parliament are outspoken against cloned animals, the first cloned animal on earth was created by Scottish scientists. Dolly the sheep has become a famous symbol for the cloning industry. Since Dolly’s day, over twenty additional animals have been successfully cloned, including dogs, cats, monkeys and water buffalo. Cloning has attracted different types of entrepreneurs ranging from a failed business attempt at cloning domestic household pets for commercial distribution, to successful widespread export of cloned American bull semen for insemination of European cattle.