South Korean Human Cloning Scientist Gets Award, Catholics Upset

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 2, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Korean Human Cloning Scientist Gets Award, Catholics Upset Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 2, 2005

Seoul, South Korea ( — South Korean human cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk has received an award from an American-based advocacy group, but the Catholic Church in South Korea is not amused by his efforts to clone and kill human beings for their stem cells.

The Florida-based Genetics Policy Institute announced Wednesday that its first Global Achievement Award would go to Hwang in recognition of his cloning research. As a result of the cloning, Hwang has produced the first set of patient-matched embryonic stem cells, though they are nowhere close to being ready for human trials, he’s admitted.

Dr. Hwang will receive the award June 11 at the Stem Cell Policy and Advocacy Summit in Houston.

The organization said it gave the award to someone who best represented advancements in stem cell research and regenerative medicine, despite medical breakthroughs in adult stem cell research that have already cured patients.

Meanwhile, Catholic Church of South Korea today condemned Hwang’s work as “exploitation of human life" and expressed its disapproval of the “world’s interest in Professor Hwang’s discoveries which do not shed light on the problems stemming from his research."

Fr Francis Xavier Ahn Myong-ok, chairman of the Bioethics Committee of the Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, said it was "very sad to witness the current situation, in which result-oriented scientific technology is exploiting human life disregarding moral sense."

"It is also sad the mass media are focusing just on the achievement of Prof. Dr. Hwang Woo-seok with no intention to point out the potential problems,” he said.

Myong-ok said the church would hold a bioethics symposium in September 2005 concerning problems with South Korean law, which promotes human cloning and embryonic stem cell research, and only prohibits human cloning for reproductive purposes.

Fr Paul Lee Chang-young, a member of the Catholic Bioethics Committee said it was "utterly absurd to distinguish embryonal cloning from human cloning," in South Korean law.

Prof Maeng Gwang-ho of the Catholic University of Korea, agreed saying "[t]hey just praise the achievement of Dr. Hwang with no voice anxious about the possibility of human cloning.”