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EU status on animal cloning

The realisation that farm animal cloning can become a commercial venture has emphasised the shortage of guidelines and legislation for risk management. A European consortium addressed this issue by reviewing technical, legal and ethical aspects of cloning, and making recommendations for EU legislation.
EU status on animal cloning
At present, cloning – the production of an identical copy of an organism – takes place in basic research and biomedicine to develop new medicines and treatments. Although in the future cloning may be used for agricultural purposes, the lack of knowledge, techniques and regulations have so far prevented this from happening.

At European level, animal cloning is now governed only by a rather complex, indirect regulatory patchwork, covering only cloning for research or biomedical purposes. In the event that animal cloning is introduced in the agricultural sector, we lack specific legislation that governs human safety and animal well-being. Additionally, the public perception regarding the risks of cloned animals and their products is another issue that ought to be addressed.

The key objective of the EU-funded Cloning IN Public project was to develop recommendations for European regulations and guidelines covering research and applications of farm animal cloning. Also, among the project’s objectives was to inform stakeholders and the general public about these issues.

The thematic scope of the project extended to both agricultural and biomedical applications of farm animal cloning. In the agricultural sector, cloning can be used as a tool within farm animal breeding. In biomedical research, cloned animals can be used as genetically identical models for research purposes, or as bio-reactors for the production of valuable proteins.

Cloning IN Public partners prepared a number of reports on the technical, legal and ethical aspects of farm animal cloning and organised international workshops, conferences and meetings to disseminate relevant information to the public. The final outcome was a series of reports giving the recommendations of the project to the EU commission about the future regulation of the technology, drawing attention to problems and expectations of the relevant technology.

Additional reports evaluated the existing legislative framework within the European Union and examined various approaches for technology regulation. Furthermore, the existing public attitude towards farm animal cloning was assessed pointing out the different ethical concerns. All recommendations were sent to the commission as the concluding action of the project.

The Cloning IN Public effort provided a much needed overview of existing EU legislation regarding animal cloning. It made appropriate recommendations to address ethical concerns and ensure that the application of cloning techniques is socially acceptable in a European context.

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