British Scientists Don’t Want U.N. to Ban Human Cloning for Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 31, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Scientists Don’t Want U.N. to Ban Human Cloning for Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 31, 2004

London, England ( — As early as October, the United Nations will reconsider a proposal to ban all forms of human cloning. But, British scientists fired the opening salvo in the battle on Monday by saying they don’t want human cloning banned that would allow the creation of human embryos for research.

Professor Richard Gardner of the British Royal Society of Medicine said that the doctors group opposes a complete human cloning ban because it could limit the embryonic stem cell research the U.K. has already allowed.

"It is clear that if the UN bans all forms of human cloning, the UK, and other countries which currently permit carefully regulated therapeutic cloning, will not sign up to it," Gardner told the BBC.

The Bush administration has co-sponsored a full human cloning ban, authored by Costa Rica and backed by 60 other nations, that opposes the use of human cloning for both reproductive and research purposes and encourages U.N. nations to ban all cloning.

However, a smaller group of countries, led in part by England, opposes the full ban. They want to ban only reproductive cloning so research that clones and kills human embryos can continue.

The tension between the two sides prompted a bloc of more than 50 Islamic nations, led by Iran, to propose delaying the vote for two years so the issue could be studied further. Advocates of the partial ban joined forces with them while the Bush administration lobbied heavily in an attempt to defeat it.

The U.N. General Assembly vote was close with 80 countries voting favor of the delay, 79 voting against it and 15 abstaining.

The Bush administration and its anti-cloning allies were eventually able to persuade other countries to reduce the delay to one year. This means the proposal will be taken up by the U.N. when it begins its next session.

The British doctors have joined with doctors groups in 67 other countries in an effort to stop the U.N. from passing the human cloning ban treaty.

Related web sites:
U.N. Human Cloning Ban Committee –