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Genetic Crossroads
May 9th, 2003

On the Hill

Last month Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) held a hearing before
the Senate Judiciary Committee on a bill (S 303) that would
ban reproductive cloning but permit cloning for research. Senator
Hatch, who sponsored the bill, is a vocal opponent of abortion
rights. His position on research cloning puts him at odds with
many of his colleagues and constituents who believe embryos
are the equivalent of human beings. The cloning debate continues
in the House as well, where members passed a bill sponsored
by Representatives Dave Weldon (R-Florida) and Bart Stupak (D-Michigan)
banning both reproductive and research cloning (HR 534) in February
by a vote of 241 to 155.


The US Patent Trademark Office panel dismissed
a challenge by the biotechnology firm Infigen on patents related
to cloning. It ruled that the cloning methods patented to the
University of Massachusetts and licensed to Advanced Cell Technology
(ACT) will stand. The patent office has not yet ruled on conflicting
claims between ACT and Geron, a California company that obtained
cloning patent rights in its purchase of the commercial arm
of the Scottish research center where Dolly the sheep was cloned.




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