Tags: Ban | Human | Reproductive | Cloning | Scientists | Advise

Ban Human Reproductive Cloning, Scientists Advise

Friday, 18 January 2002 12:00 AM

"Human reproductive cloning should not now be practiced. It is dangerous and likely to fail," said Irving Weissman, chairman of the National Academy of Sciences panel that looked at the issue. Scientists normally resist any restrictions on research. So the panel is calling for a legally enforceable ban on the practice, Weissman said.

"At the present time, we are convinced that the potential dangers to the implanted fetus, to the newborn and to the woman carrying the fetus constitute just such compelling reasons," he said.

But while the panel supports a ban on reproductive cloning, members do not want to see the ban extend to stem cell research. Many medical researchers believe embryonic stem cells hold great promise in treating many conditions, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

"The scientific and medical considerations that justify a [cloning ban] at this time are not applicable to nuclear transplantation to produce stem cells," Weissman said.

Many reproductive clinics operate outside of federal regulations, so a legal ban would be more effective than a voluntary moratorium on cloning attempts, said Mark Siegler, director of MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago and a member of the panel. Lawmakers should write legislation to fit the panel's recommendations, he said.

A bill prohibiting cloning technology in humans for any reason was passed by the House last July. That bill's co-sponsor, Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Fla., said he was disappointed that the panel didn't also want stem cell cloning banned.

"I am dumbfounded that the authors would give support to [stem cell] cloning, a move which totally negates the effective enforcement of a ban on reproductive human cloning," Weldon said. "Once cloned embryos are made available in the laboratory, it will be impossible to prevent them from being implanted in a woman's womb."

Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., also was disappointed by the panel's decision on using the technology for stem cell research.

"The report recognizes the huge burden any cloning attempts will place on women's bodies, potentially creating a widespread market for human eggs," Frist said. "With much of the science of promising embryonic stem cell research yet to be understood, it's premature to support any human cloning. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Senate to act this year upon" the House bill.

All available data from cloning mammals shows that embryos rarely survive, said Maxine Singer, who helped oversee the report's production. Embryos that succeed often result in fetuses dying in the womb, even late enough in pregnancy to threaten the mother's health, she said.

Three groups who have publicly stated their intent to clone a human presented the panel with their scenarios for succeeding in the attempt. Singer said the panel looked at the arguments for and against the proposals.

Academics on the 11-member advisory group compiled the recommendation at their own expense, said Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Science. Several work with companies exploring the use of adult stem cells. The group held a workshop to confer with experts on cloning, in vitro fertilization and embryos, he said. It also studied available information on transplanting the nucleus of an adult cell into an egg cell whose nucleas has been removed, Alberts said.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Human reproductive cloning should not now be practiced. It is dangerous and likely to fail, said Irving Weissman, chairman of the National Academy of Sciences panel that looked at the issue. Scientists normally resist any restrictions on research. So the panel is...
Ban,Human,Reproductive,Cloning,,Scientists,Advise
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2002-00-18
Friday, 18 January 2002 12:00 AM
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