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News 404 views update:May 2, 2008

Cloning not beneficial to livestock breeding

The practice of cloning should not be regarded without scepticism, said Dr Roel Veerkamp, researcher at the Animal Sciences Group (ASG) of Wageningen University and Research Centre.

In expressing his scepticism, Veerkamp used the example of a bull to demonstrate his point. "Before a clone is made of a good bull three years have passed," Veerkamp said. "Using the conventional route, that period of time would yield better bulls than the original one that would be cloned. In addition, cloning is expensive. Genetic improvement is lost when old clones are being used instead of other bulls."
Debate on cloning
Veerkamp makes his comments after European agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel recently called for a debate about animal cloning for food production.
She, in turn, did that as the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently concluded that eating meat from cloned animals is safe. The European agency for food safety (EFSA) also concluded in a concept advice that there is no reason to assume that products of cloned animals are essentially different than those of non-cloned animals.
Aim of breeding
The aim of breeding is that every next generation is better than the last one. However, when cloning, that principle is lost, Veerkamp said. "One could say that for reasons of uniformity it would be good to have cloned animals. However, in that case a very large group of production animals needs to be cloned, which is expensive."
"In addition, in the top of the breeding pyramid it is necessary to keep diversity and genetic variation. Clones could possibly be used for very specific applications, e.g. in medicine production. But that again is a different topic than food production."
 
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