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22 September 2003


1. Call for ban on human cloning
2. Swiss Approve Embryonic Stem Cell Research

1. Call for ban on human cloning

22 September, 2003

Scientists from around the world are to call for an international ban on the
cloning of humans.

Only a few countries, including the UK, have so far outlawed it.

All attempts to introduce a world-wide ban have been stymied because some
countries want that to include the use of all cloning techniques in medical

However, many researchers believe the use of some cloning techniques could
lead to a revolution in medicine.

The Inter-Academy Panel, a network of scientific societies representing the
world's leading researchers, is expected to call for a specific ban on what
they term reproductive cloning.

It is not opposed to the use of cloning techniques to find treatments for
incurable diseases.

The move has been backed by Lord May, the president of the Royal Society,
who said human cloning must be banned to prevent unscrupulous people from
exploiting the vulnerable.

Lord May said that human cloning was a threat to the health of both the
cloned child and the mother.

He called attempts to clone babies "grossly irresponsible" and which simply
exploited vulnerable people who desperately wanted children.

The United Nations is to debate human cloning next week.


Theoretically, it should be possible to clone a human by removing the DNA
from the nucleus of an egg cell taken from the mother.

This DNA would then be replaced by the genetic material taken from a cell
from the person who is to be cloned.

A trigger would be applied to the egg cell that would then make it start to
divide like any normal embryo.

The mother would have it implanted in her womb in a procedure which is
routinely performed in IVF clinics.

However, US research published earlier this year suggests that it may never
be possible successfully to clone a human because of the specific biological
make-up of the eggs of primates, including humans.

Although animal experiments have produced successful clones, the vast
majority of pregnancies have gone badly wrong.

There are also concerns about the health of cloned animals once they are

A US company, Clonaid - which is linked to a sect that believes aliens
created humans by cloning 25,000 years ago - has claimed to have cloned five
human babies since last December.

But many scientists have dismissed the claim, pointing to the company's
failure to provide DNA proof.


2. Swiss Approve Embryonic Stem Cell Research

September 18, 2003

The Swiss parliament has approved proposals to allow research on stem cells
from surplus human embryos.

The House of Representatives followed the Senate in granting scientists the
right to use stem cells from embryos up to seven days old.

However, the House voted against destroying some 1,000 frozen embryos by the
end of the year.

Under the draft law, the production of stem cells for research purposes and
trade in stem cells is banned.

The debate in the House pitted speakers from environmental and religious
groups against representatives of the research and business community.


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