leave open possibility of clone food
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LUXEMBOURG (AFP) —
EU farm ministers revived the row over 'Frankenfoods' Monday by retaining
the possibility of cloned animal products being sold in Europe, despite
scientific uncertainty and Green opposition.
Luxembourg, the agriculture ministers agreed a set of new rules for the
cloned products, included in the category of "novel foods."
The EU nations want
"novel foods to be authorised only if they do not present a danger
for consumers, do not mislead them and are not nutritionally
disadvantageous for them," the farm ministers said in a statement.
Therefore the agreed
scheme includes a strict and uniform procedure for cloned animal products
throughout the EU, with centralised authorisation including risk
assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and approval by
the European Commission.
Supporters of the
scheme argue that it will toughen up the current rules, as the
commercialisation of cloned animal products is not clearly policed in
Europe at present.
The agreed text
extends to the first generation offspring of cloned animals, which are
not currently subject to special regulation.
The EU council
decision must still be put to the European parliament but swiftly raised
the hackles of Green groups and threatens to renew public fears over
The parliament has
already declared itself in favour of an all-out ban on this type of food
product due to potential risks to animals as well as humans.
Last September the
parliament urged the EU's executive branch to ban the cloning of animals
for the food trade, citing reduced genetic diversity among other
groups, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the
European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, have outlined
problems such as the animals' well-being and the higher mortality rate of
They also stressed
that cloning could considerably reduce the gene pool diversity and
increase the risk of whole herds being hit by an illness they are all
particularly susceptible to.
EFSA itself has
warned of "uncertainties in the risk assessment" of cloned
animal products due to the paucity of research.
While cloned animal
products are not currently authorised in Europe, the parliament's Green
bloc called the ministers' decision "a potential stepping stone
towards legislation to authorise such products."
"It is deeply
worrying that EU governments are keeping options open regarding the
possible sale of meat from cloned animals on the European market,"
said British Green MEP Caroline Lucas.
"This flies in
the face of consumer concerns and a European parliament vote in favour of
an outright ban," she added.