LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg. A study on the labelling of products from cloned animals and their offspring was ordered by the European Commission to examine the implications of labelling products derived from the offspring of clones. In addition it should, where possible, quantify the associated costs.
The report describes the current situation in the European Union (EU) and third countries with respect to the use of livestock cloning, the recording of livestock ancestry, the tracing of livestock and the tracing and labelling of animal products.
It covers the beef, dairy, pig, sheep and goat and horse sectors and is concerned with both meat and dairy products. The main focus is on the beef, (bovine) dairy and pig sectors because of their importance to the EU livestock sector.
Information was gathered through a comprehensive literature review, review of sectoral productivity and economic data sets, expert information and interviews with expert stakeholders across the EU including representatives of individual companies and business associations in the following areas: animal genetics, animal breeding, trade in live animals and food products, animal slaughtering and meat cutting, meat and dairy processing and retailing. Academic experts and Member State officials were also consulted. A cost analysis was carried out using the standard cost model approach which has been used in a number of similar exercises for the Commission.
The analysis suggests that a clone offspring labelling obligation could have a measurable impact on important parts of the EU agri-food sector, and on related food prices faced by consumers. It would require introducing individual identification and ancestry recording for all food producing animals.
The pig sector and, to a lesser extent, sheep production, would be most affected.
With the approach specified the majority of costs do not vary with definition of clone offspring used or with the prevalence of clone genetics. It is instead the capability to track clone offspring that determines the cost burden. Safeguarding the claims made through system via a DNA-based verification results in substantially higher expense.
The fact that many food products are made using raw material from more than one animal means that clone offspring labelling would require establishing additional supply chains, and have significant implications for production costs. Consultations suggest products derived from clone offspring would be scarce if the labelling obligation was introduced.