South Korea Now Allows Human Cloning, Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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

South Korea Now Allows Human Cloning, Embryonic Stem Cell Research Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 31, 2004

Seoul, South Korea ( — Starting tomorrow, South Korean scientists will be able to destroy human embryos to obtain their stem cells for research thanks to new guidelines finalized by the South Korean government. The provision also allows researchers to use human cloning to specifically create unborn children for the sole purpose of killing them for stem cells.

The South Korean parliament had passed a law in January authorizing the grisly research, but the government finally concluded guidelines for it on December 21.

The new guidelines also prevent private companies from carrying out genetic examinations, according to a Yonhap News Agency report.

"The law will provide legal basis and transparent tools for scientists to do stem cell research," a ministry official told Yonhap.

The South Korean government hopes the destructive research will lead to cures for 18 diseases, including Alzheimer’s, even though two decades of embryonic stem cell research have yet to cure a single patient or produce any treatments for diseases.

On the other hand, the use of adult stem cells, which do not require the destruction of human life to obtain, have already produced treatments for dozens of diseases and ailments.

For Alzheimer’s patients, embryonic stem cell research is not likely going to fund a cure for the disease.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Georgia have said the disease is too complex to be affected by stem cells. They’re looking to other kinds of research to make an impact.

The new law bans the use of human cloning only for reproductive purposes.

In February, a team of South Korean scientists became the first in the world to successfully clone a human embryo and obtain its stem cells.