More than a chunk of meat
More than a chunk of meat
The Intergroup for Animal Welfare, which met today in Strasbourg, is a cross-party body of MEPs with a particular interest in the relevant issues, and although not an official parliamentary committee, in common with other "intergroups" it is not without influence. A number of leading animal welfare organisations participate.
As an SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard has in the last few years succeeded in bringing a number of important points forward in relation to animal welfare issues, including initiating a condemnation by the European Parliament of the practice of castrating piglets without prior stunning, and a ban on seal fur imports. In her work as a Member of the European Parliament, moreover, Liotard concerns herself not only with animal welfare and the environment but also with the safety and quality of our food and drink. When it comes to the cloning of animals for the production of meat, all of these issues are brought together.
Food and cloning
Today, at the invitation of the Intergroup, she spoke about her work as ‘rapporteur’ on Novel Foods. A rapporteur is a MEP who is given special responsibility in the preparation of a particular parliamentary decision, whether in relation to legislative proposals or general advice. Rapporteurships are divided between the political groups, according to their numerical strength. The Rapporteur must, naturally, consult with other political groups and attempt to find a position with enough support to pass through the Parliament and then to win the approval of the Council, which directly represents the member states. Being Rapporteur nevertheless has its advantages. In this case, Liotard has been able to raise,amongst other matters, the issue of cloned animals, standing up against any attempt to smuggle approval of meat from such animals in through the back door of the Novel Foods Directive. With her Novel Foods hat on, she addressed the Intergroup on the question of to what extent it is acceptable for food products to be manufactured from the meat of cloned animals.
"When I read the European Commission's plans to allow meat from cloned animals on to the food market via a back door procedure, I said to myself that this was unacceptable," said Liotard at this morning's meeting. "You can't allow 'cloned meat' to fall under the definition of Novel Foods, just like that. Happily, the European Parliament agreed and has since voted accordingly."
In addition, during a recent evening meeting in Brussels European Commissioner Androulla Vassilliou gave Kartika Liotard his word that meat from cloned animals would not be allowed to be smuggled on to the European market via the Novel Foods Directive, a further political gain for the SP member.
"The life expectancy of cloned animals is shorter. It has been demonstrated that if they survive their birth, they suffer more than do normal animals," said Liotard, adding that "neither parliament nor the public is hoping to be able to buy a cut of meat from a cloned animal. 'An animal is more than a chunk of meat,' sings Bob Fosko in an SP campaign song. We must keep up the pressure to ensure that no cloned animals will be 'produced' in Europe for the provision of food. I'm going to do my worst and my best to ensure this, and for that I need your support."
From the reactions of the audience it was clear that such support will not be lacking.