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Thoughts on Cloning

Posted by Yvonne Siu on January 10th, 2007

This post was contributed by Charlotte Hebebrand, on the trade implications of cloned animals.  

The FDA’s draft risk assessment determining that food from cloned animals is safe to eat got my attention even though it was announced in that quiet week between Christmas and New Years. I do not want to - nor am I equipped to - enter into a scientific or ethical debate on this issue, and prefer to leave those debates to the scientific experts and ethicists. My immediate reaction was to think of the likely trade implications even though we are probably still some years away from such products entering commerce. The US and EU already do not see eye to eye on a number of issues pertaining to animal derived products, ranging from whether meat from animals that have been treated with antibiotics can be labelled “organic” (perhaps unexpectedly, the US actually takes a harder line on this than the EU), to whether anti-microbial treatments are permissible, and of course whether the use of hormones as growth promoters is safe or not. Will cloning be added to this list of transatlantic food safety debates, for which closure proves elusive? Japan for one already announced last year that it would not allow imports of animal-derived products from cloned animals.

The agricultural negotiations in the Doha Round are proving difficult, in particular in the market access and domestic support area. But these are arguably much easier to tackle than trade issues related to food safety and animal health, which are not being addressed during this Round. The development and release of new and safe technologies should not be halted because of trade concerns. Yet, given the importance of international trade to the global economy, thought does need to be given on how to reach better understanding on new technologies so that trade is not impeded.

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