In August 2010, a farmer claimed that milk from cloned animals was entering the UK food chain. In the following days it emerged that meat from the offspring of cloned animals had also been sold for human consumption.
The Soil Association is opposed to the use of cloning for three major reasons:
- The cloning process is damaging to animal welfare at all stages of the cloning process; cloned animals and their surrogate mothers suffer a variety of health problems and abnormalities. The European Food Safety Authority concluded that the health and welfare of a significant proportion of clones has been found to be adversely affected, and the European Group on Ethics concluded that, considering the current level of suffering and health problems of surrogate dams and animal clones, they could find no ethical justification for cloning animals for food.
- There are insufficient long-term studies into the impacts of cloned foodstuffs on human health.
- Consumers have the right to know what they are buying and the production processes and values behind their food and drink.
Why cloning should be banned
- Cloning involves applying invasive and cruel techniques on the surrogate mothers that are used for producing the clones and, as the process is currently very inefficient; many deformed animals are created and die for each surviving healthy clone.
- There are a number of other concerns: about the safety of meat and dairy products from cloned animals; that the use of clones will reduce genetic diversity within agriculture; that the use of clones will promote the development and spread of animal diseases; as well as concerns about the ethics of cloning.
- The use of cloned farm animals fundamentally undermines the freedom of choice of farmers and consumers to avoid these animals and products, because of a lack of transparency in their regulation and traceability. At a time when Government is expressing a desire to move towards ‘honest labeling’ of food, so consumers understand what they are purchasing and know its provenance, cloned animals entering the food chain must be tackled with the utmost urgency.
Write to your MP and make your voice heard on this issue
To email your MP:
- First you need to know their name. If you don’t, you can find the name of your local MP by going to www.writetothem.com and entering your postcode.
- On the following page, you can click on the name of your MP (in the third column) and email them by following the instructions on the Write to Them site.
- If you’d prefer to email them yourself, most (but not all) MPs can be contacted by using the following format of email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. For instance, to email David Cameron you would use email@example.com. You can check your MP's email address on the Parliament website.
If you prefer you can send a letter to:
‘Local MP’s name’ MP (i.e. David Cameron MP)
House of Commons
When you write please send a copy of your letter to the Policy Team at the Soil Association. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Policy Team, Soil Association, South Plaza, Marlborough Street, Bristol, BS1 3NX.
If you would like to write to your MP about this issue and agree with us, you can use the following text, but your letter will be much more effective if you use your own words.
In 2008 the European Food Safety Authority concluded that the health and welfare of a significant proportion of clones has been found to be adversely affected, and the European Group on Ethics concluded that, considering the current level of suffering and health problems of surrogate animal clones, they could find no ethical justification for cloning animals for food.
In addition, there are no long term studies into the impacts of cloned foodstuffs on human health. Until this is firmly established, the existing regulatory framework surrounding the use of cloned animals is clearly inadequate, if reports that cloned milk and meat have entered the UK food chain are verified. Consumers have the right to know what they are buying and the production processes and values behind their food and drink.
But all of this actually masks an even bigger issue – which is the way in which our food and farming systems have become increasingly divorced from what nature intended. Industrialising the farming and food chain, and treating animals as little more than factory commodities, raises questions about both ethics and the resilience of our present systems for feeding ourselves. Cloning is generally pursued to aid the intensive production of livestock to produce ever-higher milk yields, regardless of the impact that this has on the animal’s well-being.
There are as yet too many unanswered questions on cloning animals - both ethical and practical - and insufficient regulation around their production and use. Not only does cloning have a negative impact on animal welfare, we also have no long-term evidence for the impacts on health - both as consumers of meat and dairy products and on the health outcomes for the animals themselves.
I therefore urge you to support calls for an EU wide ban on the cloning of animals for food and the sale of meat and milk from clones and their offspring.