4. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food's (MAFF) policy on the cloning of farm animals is currently guided by the 1995 recommendations of the Report of the Committee to Consider the Ethical Implications of Emerging Technologies in the Breeding of Farm Animals (the Banner Committee - see extract at Appendix A). That Committee concluded that "As regards the alleged risks involved in the production of genetically identical stock, these seem to us to be illusory". However, it is clear that, whilst the Banner Committee acknowledged nuclear transplantation as a technology by which cloning could be achieved, the opportunity presented was not fully realised until Dolly demonstrated the potential to use mature cells as sources of nuclear material. Essentially, it may soon become feasible to produce multitudes of clones from the cells of one adult animal whose genotypic and phenotypic value has been demonstrated.
5. MAFF, being conscious of public concerns about the welfare of cloned animals in agricultural practice, asked the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) in March 1997 to consider the implications of cloning for the welfare of farmed livestock and to provide advice. FAWC was also asked to advise whether the techniques raised any further moral or ethical issues in regard to the welfare of farm animals. Information about FAWC membership is at Appendix B.
6. In preparing this advice, we limited our considerations to the mammalian species commonly encountered in agricultural practice, particularly sheep, but also cattle and pigs. We did not consider cloning of farmed fish though we recognise that this is practised and recommend that the welfare issues in these species may merit separate consideration.