by Steven Ertelt
June 13, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — When Congress considered legislation to allow taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research, some lawmakers and biotech lobbyists said the United States was in danger of falling behind the world community if it didn’t back the research or human cloning to produce more embryos for science.
However, unlike most nations around the world, the United States does not have a ban on human cloning for either reproductive or research purposes.
That’s in part because embryonic stem cell research advocates refuse to back a wholesale ban on the practice because they want to leave the door open to scientists to use cloning to clone and kill human embryos for their stem cells.
Yet, in Canada and some European nations, not only are both forms of human cloning prohibited, using taxpayer funds for cloning to produce embryonic stem cells is as well.
In Canada, scientists who violate those restrictions can be find $500,000 and spend 10 years in jail.
Under German law, scientists who instruct other researchers via email about how to conduct human cloning face stiff fines and jail sentences.
The United States, on the other hand, has restrictions on public funds for new embryonic stem cell research but states are free to fund it with tax dollars and private companies can spend as much as they wish on the unproven science.
Meanwhile, the European Union has followed President Bush’s policies, much maligned in the U.S., and limited funding of embryonic stem cell research. It also does not fund either reproductive or research cloning.
As of April, the EU has only spent $625,000 on embryonic stem cell research projects while the Bush administration has spent $225 million on stem cell research in total, with $200 million going to adult stem cells.
Robert Paarlberg, a professor at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that some of the disparity between the United States and Europe has to do with a broader coalition of political groups opposing human cloning.
In the United States, opposition is mostly from pro-life, religious, and conservative organziations while many environmentalists and leftist groups join in opposition in Europe.
"In Europe, opposition also comes from Socialists and Green parties on the left, and from the state bureaucracies that tend to overregulate every kind of scientific endeavor," he said.
Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, commentson this phenomenon.
"The biotech industry lobby and its allies sometimes claim that such a law would be out-of-step with the trend in other countries, and they make the same claim regarding President Bush’s policy against government funding of research that requires the killing of human embryos," Johnson explains.
"In reality, however, … much of Europe, Canada, and some other countries have already adopted cloning bans and other policies that are as much or more protective of the human embryo as the protective policies that are currently being debated in the U.S.," Johnson said.
The United Naitons has also recognized the danger any form of human cloning possesses and voted in March to urge nations worldwide to ban all forms of human cloning.
By a margin of 70 percent, the UN called on member nations to "all forms of human cloning inasmuch as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life."