In 2008, the Commission proposed to update the 1997 regulation, but the Council and the Parliament could not agree on the draft in two readings (debate and vote). The greatest controversy concerns food from cloned animals. This was followed by several rounds of trialogue meetings, between Parliament, Council and Commission representatives.
Parliament: ban cloning
In the second reading, an overwhelming majority of the Parliament adopted the position that novel food regulation should not cover food from cloned animals (or their offspring), but a special law should be adopted on it.
Commission: no reason to ban
The Commission takes the view that there are no scientific reasons to ban foodstuffs from cloned animals. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), there is no evidence that meat or milk from cloned animals poses a public health risk. Due to the high costs of cloning, meat from cloned animals is not marketable. A real commercial interest in cloning may be from animal husbandry.
Member states: no clear majority
In the Council, some member states shared Parliament’s opinion, and others shared the Commission’s position.
A further concern is the traceability of cloned animals, as today the sperms and embryos of cloned animals are globally traded commodities. In the United States, the trade in meat from cloned animals is subject to a voluntary moratorium, but this does not apply to the offspring of cloned animals.
The Hungarian Presidency’s proposal
On 1 February 2011, the trialogue focused essentially on foodstuffs of cloned origin.
The Presidency proposed that foods of cloned origin, should be removed from the draft novel food regulation, and the Commission should commit to drafting a new law to temporarily ban cloning in animal husbandry; as well as the production, and distribution of foods of cloned origin. The compromise proposed by the Presidency only concerns first-generation cloned animals, but not their offspring. With regard to such offspring, there is a controversy whether to ban the use of first generation, or further generations as well.
According to the Presidency, the main issue is still regarding the use of cloned animals, and the offspring issues should be brought up in a few years, when the Commission has gained more experience.