EFSA’ final opinion on animal cloning

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Monday, July 28, 2008

EFSA has published its final scientific opinion on the implications of animal cloning on food safety, animal health and welfare and the environment.

Some of the key conclusions of the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) opinion include:

Uncertainties in the risk assessment arise due to the limited number of studies available, the small sample sizes investigated and, in general, the absence of a uniform approach that would allow all the issues relevant to this opinion to be more satisfactorily addressed. Only pigs and cattle are addressed in this opinion: the two species of animals where adequate data were available.

The health and welfare of a significant proportion of clones, mainly within the juvenile period for cattle and perinatal period for pigs, have been found to be adversely affected, often severely and with a fatal outcome.

Somatic Cell Nucleus Transfer (the most common technique used to clone animals) has resulted in the production of healthy cattle and pig clones, and healthy offspring, that are similar to their conventional counterparts based on parameters such as physiological characteristics, demeanour and clinical status.

There is no indication that differences exist in terms of food safety for meat and milk of clones and their progeny compared with those from conventionally bred animals. However, such a conclusion is based on the assumption that meat and milk are derived from healthy animals which are subject to relevant food safety regulations and controls.

No environmental impact is foreseen but there are only limited data available.

Recommendations in the opinion include:

The health and welfare of clones should be monitored during their production life and natural life span.

As food animals other than cattle and pig have also been produced via SCNT, risk assessments should be performed on these species when relevant data become available.

Investigate further the causes of pathologies and mortality observed in clones during the gestational and postnatal periods and those observed at a lower frequency in adulthood.

Further investigate the immunocompetence and the susceptibility of clones and their offspring to diseases and transmissible agents when reared and kept under conventional husbandry conditions.

Perform studies on animal welfare, including behavioural studies, in healthy clones under normal husbandry conditions.