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New Bans on Human Genetic Modification in Japan and Netherlands

Genetic Crossroads
October 16th, 2000

Very little media notice has been given to new prohibitions on human
genetic modification in Japan and the Netherlands.

According to an October 6 Reuters report, the Japanese cabinet has
approved a bill making it illegal to put a cloned human embryo into
the womb of a woman or animal. Violators could be sentenced to up to
ten years in prison and fined up to 10 million yen ($91,670). These
provisions are stiffer than those called for in an earlier version of
the bill, which was scrapped after opponents argued it was too lenient.
Japan's Kyodo News agency said that the government will draft separate
guidelines to allow research on cloned human embryos.

The Dutch government has introduced a bill into parliament that would
ban human cloning, sex selection, and germline manipulation. The bill
would also forbid scientists to create human embryos for research, but
would allow them to use "surplus" embryos from in vitro fertilization
clinics under strict conditions. The Dutch position is seen as a middle
ground between the European Parliament's call to ban non-reproductive
cloning and the proposal of the UK government's advisors to allow the
creation of human embryos by cloning in order to obtain embryonic stem
cells. (See Issue 11 of this newsletter.)

British Medical Journal coverage of the Dutch legislation is at


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