Tags: Anti-Cloning | Activists | Want | Answers | After | Revelations | Experiment

Anti-Cloning Activists Want Answers After Revelations of Experiment

Tuesday, 28 May 2002 12:00 AM

The experiments by Dr. Roger Pedersen are the first known attempts at human cloning undertaken by a public institution. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal uncovered the details about the Pedersen's research using California's freedom-of-information laws.

The University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) admitted hosting the research project. It said the aim of the cloning experiment was to produce embryonic stem cells for medical research and not to clone human beings.

The experiments, which did not produce any viable human embryos, were legal. The research was paid for with state funds and money from Geron Corp., a biotechnology company, to avoid running afoul of an U.S. law that prohibits the use of federal funds for studies in which embryos are destroyed.

Pedersen has since left the University of California to take a post at Cambridge University in England.

Josephine Quintavalle, the director of Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE), said Tuesday that the doctor should come clean about his motivations for leaving California and returning to Britain.

"Is it because of the looser laws over here?" she asked. "I also want to know to what extent officials know what is actually going on in these research institutions."

A decision by President Bush last August limited stem cell research to existing stem cell lines, a condition not imposed on scientists working in Britain.

Quintavalle said Pedersen and USCF were guilty of a cover-up and that Britain's anti-cloning activists would have protested the doctor's move to Cambridge, had they known about the California experiments.

"People are only secretive about things because they have something to hide," she said. "It's high time for Pedersen to be out in the open. I definitely think he should respond."

Pedersen did not answer requests for an interview Tuesday. The Cambridge University press office referred all questions to UCSF officials.

Pedersen and UCSF released a joint statement saying that the doctor conducted two sets of cloning experiments, one in 1999 and another one in early 2001. The university said it was not currently sponsoring any cloning research.

Likewise, Pedersen said he was not currently conducting cloning research and probably would not perform such experiments in the immediate future.

The doctor said cloning to produce stem cells could be valuable in developing cures for diseases.

"An obvious benefit would be obtaining embryonic stem cells that were immunologically compatible with individual patients," he said.

Anti-cloning activists argue that other types of research are more fruitful in formulating therapies for illnesses such as cancer and Parkinson's disease.

Though USCF is the first university to acknowledge pursuing human cloning, the Worcester, Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology group claimed to have cloned a human embryo last November.

Several rogue scientists have also stated their intention to clone a human for reproductive purposes but have provided no hard evidence to back up their bombastic claims.

The U.S. Senate is debating a bill, passed by the House last year, that would make any form of human cloning a crime punishable by a $1 million fine and up to 10 years in jail. A vote on the bill is expected next month. President Bush has indicated his support for the measure.

In Britain, reproductive cloning is banned, but many types of therapeutic cloning and stem cell experiments are permitted as long as researchers obtain a licence from the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority.

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The experiments by Dr. Roger Pedersen are the first known attempts at human cloning undertaken by a public institution. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal uncovered the details about the Pedersen's research using California's freedom-of-information laws. The University of...
Anti-Cloning,Activists,Want,Answers,After,Revelations,Experiment
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2002-00-28
Tuesday, 28 May 2002 12:00 AM
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