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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