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New Policies on Human Embryo Research in the US and UK

Genetic Crossroads
September 19th, 2000

In August, proposals to revise government policies on human embryo
research were announced in both the US and the UK. The two widely
reported developments sparked controversy and renewed speculation
about cloning human children.

In the US, President Clinton announced that American scientists will
now be able to conduct federally funded research into human embryonic
stem cells if they use cells derived from "surplus" IVF embryos. The
new policy does not allow scientists who receive government funds to
create human embryos for research purposes. Congressional hearings on
human embryo research will be held this fall.

In Britain, a government advisory committee headed by Chief Medical
Officer Liam Donaldson called for allowing scientists to create human
embryos by cloning in order to obtain embryonic stem cells. The cloned
embryos could be kept for no more than 14 days. Prime Minister Tony
Blair announced that parliament will vote on the recommendation.

Though media coverage focused on opposition to the destruction of
embryos by the Pope and anti-abortion groups, pro-choice organizations
also condemned the British recommendations. A statement by the Campaign
Against Human Genetic Engineering said, "Until there is a global ban on
reproductive cloning there should be a moratorium on creating embryos
by cloning. . ..The government must actively lobby for an enforceable
international treaty banning reproductive cloning."
See <http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~cahge>.


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