06/30/2008, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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In Islamic world, war breaks out over animal cloning

by Santosh Digal
Filipino Muslims are against the "halal" butchering of cloned meat, while the Islamic academy of Pakistan admits its validity. Pressure from multinational companies that project business of more than 150 billion dollars per year. Human cloning banned outright.

Manila (AsiaNews) - Religious Filipino Muslims and food experts say they are against the "halal" butchering - according to the precepts imposed by Islam - of meat from cloned animals: the Muslim Mindanao Halal Certifying Board Inc. (MMHCBI), an organisation established to certify the compliance of meat preparation, made up of representatives from six Islamic majority provinces in the country, has begun considering a fatwa issued on this matter by the Islamic academy of Pakistan.

The Filipino Muslims and food scientists maintain that it is impossible to "accept the norm on animal cloning" that permits "conformity to Islamic law", even though the opinion of the Pakistani clerics is positive.  According to the head of the academy of Pakistan, "cloning is permissible in case of plants as well as in case of animals except human beings", because this creates problems of a "social and moral nature".

Ustadz Esmael Ebrahim, spokesman of the MMHCBI, emphasises that cloning, and human cloning in particular, is "against the precepts of Islam, because the Qur'an recognises the development of the individual in a well-defined spatial-temporal matrix", according to a divine plan that "cannot be preserved or reproduced in a delayed time frame".  There is in any case a legislative void on this matter in the Muslim world.

The foundation of all of this seems to be an economic question: Filipino religious leaders are planning a summit with the association of meat producers in Mindanao - made up of representatives from Nestlè, Del Monte, Magnolia Swift, and Bounty Fresh - interested in promoting trade in meat butchered according to Islamic rules.  This market is believed to guarantee a volume of business of more than 150 billion dollars per year in Muslim majority countries of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, an enticing prospect for multinational companies in the sector.

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