Brussels, 9 October 2008
A Flash Eurobarometer study, presented by the European Commission today, reveals that European citizens have a generally negative perception of animal cloning for food production. The study was carried out to assess citizens' attitudes towards animal cloning. It indicates firstly, that the vast majority of citizens has a good degree of knowledge of what is animal cloning ( eight out of 10 stated correctly that "cloning is making an identical copy of an existing animal). Secondly, the study shows that a very high percentage of citizens is negative about cloning for human consumption as 81% feels that the long term effects of animal cloning on nature are unknown while 84% states that we don’t have enough experience about the long-term health and safety effects of using cloned animals for food.
EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said: "The survey provides us with valuable insights into the attitudes of EU citizens toward the use of animal cloning technology for food production. The European Commission has now before it the opinions of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Group of Ethics (EGE) and also the Eurobarometer survey. The Commission will now proceed with the analysis of these elements before considering whether and what action may be necessary."
Some details about the study
With regard to when cloning may be justified, respondents noted that animal cloning for food production should never be justified by an average of 58% while 41% thought that it may be justified to improve the robustness of animals against diseases and 44% thought it would be justified if used to preserve rare animal species.
Amongst other issues, almost four out of 10 of those asked (38%) believe that none of the potential benefits presented to them (health or economic) would justify breeding cloned animals for food production. Out of those believing that there are benefits to animal cloning, 54% expressed the opinion that the procedure might help solve the worldwide food problems. However, 54% and 44% of the respondent felt that animal cloning would ultimately not benefit either consumers or farmers.
The food industry emerged as the sector that would ultimately benefit if animal cloning for food production purposes was allowed: 86% of respondents share this opinion.
Citizens stated they are "not at all likely" to buy food derived from cloned animals (43%) or from offspring of cloned animals (41%)
The Eurobarometer was conducted in July 2008. More than 25 000 randomly selected citizens were interviewed in the 27 EU Member States.
In July, the European Commission received the scientific opinion of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on cloning and earlier this year, the European Group of Ethics (EGE) delivered its opinion on the same subject.
EFSA's report gave rise to increased concerns on aspects of animal health and
welfare and the EGE raised ethical concerns.