The European Parliament reiterated its opposition to meat and milk produced from cloned animals yesterday (7 July), piling pressure on the European Commission to ban food produced in this way.
Voting on Wednesday, the Parliament reaffirmed its first-reading position to exclude food derived from cloned animals or their offspring from a draft EU regulation on novel foods.
The Commission and EU member states would like to regulate the sale of "novel foods" – defined as food made with new production processes or which was not widely consumed before 1997.
But MEPs have adopted a more restrictive approach, asking the Commission to table a separate legislative proposal to expressly ban food from cloned animals and their descendants.
If EU countries reject the Parliament's position, a conciliation procedure will be launched to find a compromise.
In the meantime, the Parliament is asking for a moratorium on all sales of food derived from cloning, a position it has maintained since it first passed a resolution on the matter in 2008.
The Commission's initial proposal for a novel foods regulation would have regulated food derived from cloned animals but not their traditionally-bred offspring. EU member states, meanwhile, would like to see both addressed under the new rules.
'No to nanofoods' until risks assessed
On nanofoods, the Parliament was equally assertive. While it agreed that nano-sized ingredients in food should be subject to EU regulations, it called for a moratorium on their use until specific risk assessments have proven that they are safe.
In addition, the House wants clear labelling to warn consumers that the food they are going to eat contains nano-ingredients.
Trade problems in sight?
But the US Food and Drug Administration has encouraged American farmers to voluntarily keep their cloned animals off the market during an unspecified transition period to allow the US Department of Agriculture to work with interested industry stakeholders to "ensure a smooth and seamless transition into the marketplace for these products".
The European Parliament's call for complete ban on food from clones, if followed by the 27 member states, could thus lead to yet another bitter transatlantic food trade dispute sometime in the future.
Examples of major EU-US trade disputes in the food and agriculture sector include those concerning genetically modified organisms, hormone beef and chlorinated chicken.