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Genetic Crossroads
September 23rd, 2004


Cloning: China, Singapore, UK, South Africa,
UN, Germany:
Both Singapore and China, each aiming to be a biotech
giant of the future, have banned reproductive cloning. Singapore's
law permits research cloning
and China
is expected to do so
. It remains to be seen how tightly this
research will be regulated.


The United Kingdom's Human Fertilisation and Embryo
Authority [HFEA] issued
its first license for research cloning
to scientists at Newcastle
University. Several countries, Italy
and Germany
in particular, issued strong objections. South
Africa
, on the other hand, quickly followed the UK's lead and
legalized research cloning.


The United Nations is set to resume its debate on
a global convention to outlaw human cloning in October, but appears
to remain deadlocked over the question of how to handle research
cloning. The
United States has said
that the inclusion of a prohibition on
research cloning is one of its top priorities. The Organization
of the Islamic Conference and the
African Union
are attempting to come up with common positions
for their member states, and could decide the matter either way.


Germany's
National Ethics Council revisited that country's ban on research
cloning
and, in a divided decision, resolved to maintain the
prohibition.


PGD: Public consultation and permission for tissue
typing in the UK:
In July, the UK's Human
Genetics Commission launched a three-month public consultation on
PGD
. Less than a week later, the
Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority
, which regulates
assisted reproduction and embryo research in the UK, announced that
it would broaden its rules on PGD for "savior siblings."
HFEA will now allow embryo screening to select for a new child whose
tissues would match those of an existing sibling, even when there
is no genetic disease-—and therefore no risk to the new child.
The agency says it expects its decision to affect only a small number
of cases. One
of the families actively advocating this change
, the Fletchers
of Ireland, announced they will move ahead with the procedure for
their son, who suffers from Diamond Blackfan Anemia.


New
Zealand considers ban on inheritable genetic modification:

The Human Assisted Reproductive Technology (HART) bill now pending
in New Zealand's Parliament has been amended to include a ban on
human inheritable genetic engineering after lobbying by the Green
Party and GE Free New Zealand. The bill would also prohibit human
reproductive cloning and sex selection.



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