BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Most Europeans have reservations about cloning animals for food, while 67 percent see cloning as justified if used to preserve rare animal species, a survey that could help forge EU policy in the area showed on Thursday.
The Eurobarometer poll said 84 percent of Europeans feel the long-term effects of cloning are unknown, 58 percent see animal cloning for food production as unjustified, and 28 percent would accept animal cloning for food production in some circumstances.
The survey, conducted in July, was commissioned by the European Commission to help decide whether it should approve the practice within the EU. It is also studying opinions by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Group of Ethics (EGE).
“The Commission will now proceed with the analysis of these elements before considering whether and what action may be necessary,” EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said in a statement.
Animal cloning is an emerging technology in the United States and Europe and, if it proves economically viable, food from cloned animals may enter the food chain across the world.
Hundreds of animals have been cloned mainly in the United States. EU officials have said Britain and Germany support the cloning of animals, with London confirming that it has imported one clone already.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in April that it will not lift a voluntary moratorium on selling meat and milk from cloned animals to consumers any time soon.
According to Thursday’s survey, 57 percent of respondents thought animal cloning could be justified to improve the robustness of animals against diseases, while 86 percent said it was the food industry which would benefit from cloning for food.
Animal welfare lobby, the Eurogroup for Animals, welcomed the survey and urged the EU Commission to propose a ban on animal cloning for food.
Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Louise Ireland and Mark John