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EP wants animal cloning ban extended to offspring and imports

08/09/2015

"The technique of cloning is not fully mature, and in fact, no further progress has been made with it. The mortality rate remains equally high. Many of the animals which are born alive die in the first few weeks, and they die painfully. Should we allow that?" said the environment committee co-rapporteur, Renate Sommer (EPP, DE).

The legislative report was adopted by 529 votes to 120, with 57 abstentions.

“Up to now, we have been able to import reproductive material from third countries. We are washing our hands letting others do the dirty work. We want to ban comprehensively. Not just the use of cloning techniques but the imports of reproductive material, clones and their descendants. Traceability is possible. There are pedigree books, breeding books, stock books available. I'd like to ask the European Commission to rethink this whole thing. Sometimes, politics have to set the limits,” said Ms Sommer.

"We need to take into account the impact on animal health, but also on human health,” said the agriculture committee co-rapporteur, Giulia Moi (EFDD, IT). “This reports sends the message to our trade partners that we are not willing to put our own health, our families' health, and future generations' health at stake using products of dubious quality of this nature," she said. “Our farmers are currently faced with major competitive pressure from Asia particularly, due to certain practices, including cloning. But Europe is based on values and that includes quality. We want to be sure that we don't go down a path from which there is no return,” she added.

While animal welfare would be respected for the descendants of cloned animals born by means of conventional sexual reproduction, the high mortality rates at all development stages of cloning their progenitor raise significant animal welfare and ethical concerns, says Parliament. It therefore extended the ban to cover the germinal products of animal clones, descendants of animal clones and products derived from them.

The ban should also cover animals which are already derived from clones in certain third countries, says the EP. It says imports into the EU should only be allowed if the import certificates show that animals are not animal clones or their descendents. The ban should also apply to imports of animal germinal products and food and feed of animal origin.

High mortality rates and abnormalities

The EP points to findings by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) from 2008 that the health and welfare of clones are adversely affected, often severely and with a fatal outcome. The resulting low efficiency rates in cloning (6 to 15% for bovine and 6% for porcine species) make it necessary to implant embryo clones into several dams to obtain one cloned animal. Furthermore, clone abnormalities and unusually large offspring result in difficult births and neonatal deaths.

Public opposition to cloning

MEPs also refer to consumer research findings indicating that a majority of EU citizens strongly oppose the consumption of food from animal clones or from their descendants and that a majority also disapprove of the use of cloning for farming purposes, on animal welfare and general ethical grounds.

The amended text converts the legal act into a regulation, which has to be applied directly in all member states, rather than a directive, which would require further national legislation. Parliament also extended the ban’s scope to cover all species of animals kept and reproduced for farming purposes and not only bovine, porcine, ovine, caprine and equine species as proposed by the Commission.

Next steps

The co-rapporteurs will now start negotiations with the Council of the EU on the final shape of the law.

MEPs approve first emergency rules for distributing asylum seekers in the EU

09/09/2015

"We have a humanitarian crisis and we need to act on it now. Relocating 40,000 refugees is just the start. Let this measure be the start of a rights-based, a fair and a common asylum policy, in solidarity with all member states and in solidarity with the refugees," said Parliament's rapporteur, Ska Keller (Greens/EFA, DE), in the debate on Tuesday.

Ms Keller also stressed the need for a "permanent distribution key in case there is an emergency. We must be able to decide and move forward if we have that emergency, and we should not be blocked by several member states." The future proposal for a permanent scheme should provide for a mandatory and automatically triggered relocation system.

The legislative resolution on the emergency relocation of the initial 40.000 asylum seekers was approved by 498 votes to 158, with 37 abstentions.

More solidarity will be needed

To relieve the significant asylum pressure from Italy and Greece, "but also to act as an important test case with a view to the upcoming legislative proposal on a permanent emergency relocation scheme", Parliament agrees that "an initial total of 40,000 applicants shall be relocated from Italy and Greece" over two years (24,000 from Italy and 16,000 from Greece).

To adapt to rapidly changing refugee flows and trends, "a further increase shall be considered" in the course of the application of these emergency measures (i.e. during the two-year period), MEPs add.

A separate proposal for a permanent emergency relocation scheme must also be based "on a more substantial contribution to solidarity and responsibility-sharing among member states, including a significant increase in the number of available relocation places", MEPs stress. It should be built on clearly defined criteria, allowing it to be triggered "on the basis of transparent and objective indicators".


Taking asylum seekers' preferences into account

The EP proposes that asylum seekers should be given the possibility, before they are relocated from Italy and Greece, to rank member states by order of preference, according to criteria such as family ties, social ties and cultural ties, for example language skills, previous stays, studies and work experience.

"While applicants do not have a right to choose the member state of their relocation, their needs, preferences and specific qualifications should be taken into account to the extent possible," says Parliament, since this could facilitate their integration into a particular EU country. Parliament also stresses that special attention should be given to unaccompanied minors.

Next steps

Parliament has stated its position today, under the consultation procedure (under Article 78(3) of the Treaty), on the temporary emergency rules for the relocation of the 40,000 asylum seekers initially proposed by the Commission on 27 May.  It will be consulted in the coming months on the additional figure of 120,000 to be relocated under the second emergency relocation proposal announced today.

EU interior ministers agreed on 20 July, as a first step, to the relocation of 32,256 persons and to update the figures by December with a view to reaching the overall number of 40,000 (see table showing the distribution of the 32,256 asylum seekers between member states). A further Council meeting is scheduled for 14 September.

Once it has been formally adopted by the Council, the decision will enter into force on the day after its publication in the EU Official Journal. The member states participating in the relocation scheme will receive a lump sum of €6 000 for each relocated person.

When a permanent relocation system is proposed – which Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced in his State of the Union address on Wednesday morning,– Parliament will decide on it jointly with the Council (EU member states) under the codecision procedure.

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