South Korea Backs Team’s Human Cloning, Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 12, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Korea Backs Team’s Human Cloning, Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 12, 2005

Seoul, South Korea ( — As expected, the South Korean government approved research projects submit for approval by a team of scientists at Seoul National University. The Asian nation finalized guidelines last month under which the scientists can carry out human cloning to produce unborn children for the sole purpose of destroying them for their stem cells.

The South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare okayed a request by Hwang Woo-seok, a professor at the college who led a team of scientists last February in becoming the first to successfully clone a human embryo for research purposes.

"With today’s action, Professor Hwang’s team can spur their research under the government’s supervision,” the ministry said in a statement.

The guidelines follow a law passed by the country’s legislature allowing cloning for research but not for reproductive purposes.

The new law allows Woo-seok’s team to also use unused eggs from fertility clinics to create embryos for research.

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 guidelines also prevent private companies from carrying out genetic examinations.