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The European Union announced plans on Tuesday to temporarily ban the use of animal cloning for food production, while allowing imports of food derived from the offspring of clones from the United States and elsewhere.

The report from the European Commission followed a call by EU lawmakers in July for a total ban on food derived from cloned animals and their traditionally bred offspring, citing ethical concerns over the industrial production of cloned meat.

The Commission said a temporary five-year EU ban on cloning for food production was justified on animal welfare grounds, but said banning imports of food from the offspring of clones was unnecessary and would disrupt global trade.

"Food from cloned animals is safe. In fact, the scientific opinion is that it cannot be differentiated in any way from food from normally bred animals. The issue is animal welfare," EU Health and Consumer Commissioner John Dalli told reporters.

Food derived from the offspring of clones presents no such animal welfare issues, and banning its sale and import would be impossible because the origin is untraceable, Dalli said....