EU novel food talks fail over labelling of cloned animal products

The European Union's parliament and secretariat accused one another of failing to compromise, as negotiations over labelling food stemming from the offspring of cloned animals fell apart during overnight talks.

The EU so far has no rules on food from cloned animals, in part because the science of cloning is in its infancy. The bloc will now revert back to its 1997 regulation on novel foods, which doesn't touch upon cloning, since the technology did not exist at the time.

Cloned animals themselves are not typically processed for food, because of their high price tag. However, meat and milk from their offspring could be sold in European supermarkets without being identified as such.

A balanced solution

"The council has exhausted every possibility trying to reach a balanced solution on novel foods, and in particular on the question of food from cloned animals," the EU Council said in a statement.

It blamed the parliament's "inability to compromise" on a demand that all food derived from the offspring of cloned animals be labelled, suggesting that the measure was not feasible.

Instead, the council had suggested to initially only label beef stemming from offspring, two years after the new regulations enter into force.

Rules that can’t be enforced

"The council does not want to mislead consumers by agreeing rules that cannot be enforced," it said.

The parliament, however, complained that the council "would not listen to public opinion."

"We made a huge effort to compromise, but we were not willing to betray customers on their right to know whether food comes from animals bred using clones," the chair of the parliamentary delegation, Gianni Pittella, and its novel food rapporteur, Kartika Liotard, said.

"A commitment to label all food products from cloned offspring is a bare minimum," they added. "(The council's) failure to compromise means that other valuable improvements to the rules are now lost." (Sapa/ March 2011)

Read more: 

The EU debates food from cloned animals

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