Germany Officials Outraged Over British Vote for Hybrid Human Cloning

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 21, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Germany Officials Outraged Over British Vote for Hybrid Human Cloning

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 21
, 2008

Berlin, Germany ( — Both political officials and medical leaders in Germany are outraged over a recent vote in the British Parliament to legalize human cloning involving hybrids. Those are human embryos created with both human and animal DNA for the sole purpose of their destruction for stem cells.

The House of Commons rejected an amendment 336 to 176 to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill that would have prevented the hybrid cloning.

Members of parliament also voted 286 to 223 to reject a second amendment that would have prohibited so-called "true hybrids" using the sex cells of a human and an animal.

Annette Schavan, Germany’s minister of education and research, strongly criticized the decision saying it was "wrong and highly ethically dubious" and crossed moral and ethical boundaries.

The Deutsche Welle newspaper reported Schavan also warned that the European Union should not vote to put any public funds behind the research.

Meanwhile, the German Medical Association also sharply condemned the move and said hybrid clones would not likely provide any medical benefits.

"We consider this decision to be a serious mistake," Frank Ulrich Montgomery, the vice-president of the doctors group, told AP. "Just the fact that viable embryos are to be destroyed shows that they are developing a completely different relationship to growing life."

Montgomery said he thinks promoting expectations of the hybrid cloning leading to cures for patients is deceiving the public. He pointed out that embryonic stem cell research has never helped a single patient while the use of adult stem cells has treated nearly 100 diseases.

Montgomery took issue with the UK allowing so-called "savior siblings" as well.

"We consider it unethical to use a person for spare parts," he said.

Also, Berlin stem-cell researcher James Adjaye told Germany’s Mitteldeutsche Zeitung that it would be difficult to discern what cells are human and which ones are animal and that may prove difficult in allowing the cells to be used for treatments.

The DW also reported that EU parliamentarian Peter Liese, who heads a working group on bioethics, said the British vote on hybrids "scientifically irrational and irresponsible."