HUMAN THERAPEUTIC CLONING:
Developments up to the end of 2001
The following news items relate to therapeutic cloning: the creation of
pre-embryos in order to extract their stem cells and create a human organ.
They are unrelated to reproductive cloning: the creation of a newborn who is
an exact duplication of an existing person.
See another essay for U.S. legislative
information at the Federal and State levels.
Cloning news items up to 2001:
||1997 - USA: Commission recommended limitations on creating
embryos: The U.S. National Bioethics Advisory Commission
recommended in 1997 that:
||No federal funds be used for creating embryos as a source for stem
||Stem cell research use only material harvested from aborted fetuses or
from embryos left over after infertility treatments.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health drafted a set of guidelines
in 1999 that:
||Would allow federal funding of stem cell research only using cells
derived from aborted fetuses or from embryos left over after infertility
||Would not allow federal funding for research in methods of extracting
stem cells from embryos.
No limitations existed for private research which is not funded by the government.
||1998-DEC - Korea: A team of researchers at Kyunghee
University Hospital, led by Professor Lee Bo-yeon, claimed that they had
cloned a human embryo. However, they offered no proof.
Later, a panel of the Korean Doctors Association concluded that
the team's records were so poorly kept that their success could not be
verified. According to the National Post: "Most researchers doubted the
experiment ever took place." 1|
||2000-AUG-17: England: Recommendation to lift ban: A chief medical officer's expert group recommended that the government ban be lifted on human "therapeutic
cloning." In England, limited experimentation using young human embryos is
permitted. Therapeutic cloning were seen to not raise "fundamentally new
ethical issues." 2 "Government ministers have already indicated
that they support...[the proposals]. Members of Parliament
will vote on the issue later this year." 2|
||2000-AUG-29: Vatican: Cloning ban advocated: Pope John Paul II delivered an address to the International Congress
on Transplants on . He commented that medical "...methods that
fail to respect the dignity and value of the person must always be
avoided. I am thinking in particular of attempts at human cloning with
a view to obtaining organs for transplants: these techniques, insofar
as they involve the manipulation and destruction of human embryos, are
not morally acceptable, even when their proposed goal is good in
||2001-FEB-14: USA: President Bush has not yet moved to inhibit embryo
research: While running for election, President George W
Bush promised to cancel federal funding of research programs which
involves the killing of human embryos, or which uses tissue from
aborted fetuses. As of mid 2001-MAR, he had taken no action in this
2001-MAR-29: Canada: Experts push for human
stem cell research:
According to Reuters: "Canada currently has no guidelines on
stem cell research and this has stalled work on a promising medical
technique that could one day provide cures for diabetes, Parkinson's
disease, leukemia, retinal degeneration and muscular dystrophy."
"Canadian experts recommended that Ottawa should allow some
kinds of human stem cell research...The Canadian Institutes of Health
Research (CIHR) -- the government body that funds medical research --
made the recommendations in a set of draft guidelines, which also said
strict limits should be placed on stem cell research, including the
retention of a ban on cloning humans."
||2001-MAY-23: Scotland: Church calls for allowing human
The Scottish church's General
Assembly called on the government to ban human reproductive
cloning and to pursue a world-wide ban. The Assembly accepted
the Board of Social Responsibilityís call to legalize
reproductive cloning by recognizing: "that human embryos created by cell nuclear transfer may be used in
medical research and therapy, subject to the 14-day limit".|
||2001-JUL-30: USA: House subcommittee approved bill to
ban therapeutic cloning: A sub-panel of the House Judiciary
Committee approved a bill sponsored by Representative Dave Weldon
(R-FL). It would ban all human therapeutic cloning for both reproduction
and therapeutic research. It would provide for up to ten years in prison
and up to $1 million in fines for persons who attempt to clone a human
being. The Import of cloned embryos would also be banned.
The Biotechnology Industry Group, which includes almost 1,000
member companies opposes human reproductive cloning, However. they wrote
that therapeutic "cloning techniques in research are integral to the
production of breakthrough medicines, diagnostics and vaccines."
Their bioethics counsel, Michael Werner, said "Cloning
for research purposes [could] open the door to the development of cures
... for unmet medical needs like diabetes, stroke and diseases of aging.
Cloning is the way we can figure out how to turn valuable insights from
stem-cell research into products that are transplantable into patients." |
A second bill, sponsored by Representative James Greenwood (R-PA) would
ban the implantation of a therapeutically cloned embryo in a woman's
womb to produce a baby, but would allow the creation of cloned embryos
for medical research and the development of single organs.
More details on these, and similar, bills
||2001-JUL-30: Europe: Status of therapeutic cloning in the UK and
the rest of Europe:
Currently, therapeutic cloning of humans is banned in 29 European
countries, but is permitted in the UK for research purposes. In 1991,
the UK Parliament established the Human Fertilization and Embryology
Authority, which licenses both fertility clinics and research
institutions that study embryos. To date, the agency has allowed 118
embryos to be created for research purposes -- none yet for therapeutic
cloning. However it has the authority to approve that form of cloning.
"In the past decade, 925,747 [embryos] have been created and more
than 50,000 babies have been born; 294,584 embryos have been destroyed
and 53,497 have been used for research." 4 If therapeutic
banned in the U.S., there would probably be an immediate "brain drain"
of American medical researchers to the UK.|
||2001-NOV-25: USA: Company successfully produced human clone for
Advanced Cell Technology, a biotech company in Worcester, MA,
announced that they had produced an embryo with human DNA which had
grown to the six-cell level. The company's chief executive officer,
Michael West, told NBC's Meet The Press that if the embryo had
been implanted in a woman's womb, it might have developed into a
newborn. However, the technology will be used only to generate stem
cells for research. Mary Ann Liebert, publisher of the online journal
e-biomed, said: "New technologies are frequently controversial
and I think people right away think 'Oh my God, we're going to clone a
human being,' but that is not what this is about. It will be sad and
tragic if this does not go ahead." 5 Mr.
Bush told reporters, "The use of embryos to clone is wrong. We should
not as a society grow life to destroy it. And that's exactly what's
taking place." 6|
"Did South Korean Doctors Clone Human Embryo?," Global Situation Report,
"British experts back cloning," 2000-AUG-16, at: http://www.7am.com
Todd Zwillich, "House subcommittee approves ban on human cloning,"
"Embryo, stem cell research moving full bore in Britain," New York
Tom Arnold, "Embryo research raises issues of morals, ethics: Laws on
human replication lagging behind science," National Post (Canada),
August Gribbin, "Senate to debate cloning penalties," Washington
- Pope John Paul II, "Address to International Congress
on Transplants," 2000-AUG-29, at: http://www.cin.org/pope/organ-transplant-cloning.html
Copyright ©1997 to 2002 incl. by Ontario Consultants on
Originally published: 1997-AUG-5
Last updated 2004-FEB-13
Author: Bruce A Robinson