The European Parliament is pushing for an outright ban on the commercialisation of cloning of animals, heading off potentially lucrative research revenues for universities. The parliament voted overwhelmingly for a legislative amendment within European Union legislation to ban cloning animals for economic reasons, preventing their use for manufacturing meat, dairy foods, fibres and skins for clothing and textiles, medicine and other industries.
"It's degrading to animals and causes suffering. Animals are sentient beings and should be treated with respect. They are not commodities," said Janusz Wojciechowski, the Polish member who proposed the declaration. He was "very satisfied" with the vote which showed that members put animal welfare above economics.
Although the vote is not binding on EU institutions, Wojciechowski predicted the European Commission might now table firm legislative proposals for a comprehensive animal cloning ban, possibly next year. Cloning animals has been the subject of much research since Dolly the sheep became the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, following groundbreaking work carried out at the Roslin Institute in Scotland.
Some of this work has been controversial: a Californian company called Genetic Savings and Clone cloned a cat in 2004, allowing a Texas woman to replicate her dead cat, while a University of Idaho-Utah State University research team also cloned a mule, with scientists saying the development allowed them to investigate calcium concentrations in cells.
But although cloning to advance pure science is supported by the European Parliament, it wants to stop such knowledge being used by profit-making companies. Members voted to declare that their institution "strongly believes that the cloning of animals for economic purposes should be banned."
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