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International scientific body calls for ban on human reproductive cloning

More than 60 science academies from every continent in the world have called on the United Nations to adopt a ban on human reproductive cloning. The statement was issued by the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP), a body representing scientific academies worldwide. In the same statement, however, the science academies say that therapeutic cloning should be exempt from the ban.

IAP members will present the statement to delegates of the UN Committee on Cloning, scheduled to meet at UN headquarters in New York City between September 29 and 3 October. The Committee has examined the possibility of issuing a declaration in UN parlance, a 'convention' that endorses a ban on cloning. Consensus, however, has been hampered by disagreements concerning the scope of such a ban, especially whether the ban should apply to research and therapeutic cloning.

IAP warns that human cloning poses a serious threat to the health of both the cloned child and the mother. Animal studies on reproductive cloning show a high incidence of fetal disorders and spontaneous abortions, and of malformation and death among newborns. According to the statement, there is no reason to suppose that the outcome would be different in humans.

Even if scientific developments meant that one day reproductive cloning could be undertaken without major medical risk, the IAP statement stresses that the practice would continue to face strong ethical, social and economic objections.

The statement, however, goes on to outline the substantial benefits that could be derived from cloning to obtain embryonic stem cells for research and therapeutic purposes. Therefore, IAP contends that such work should be excluded from the ban on human reproductive cloning.

"Human reproductive cloning is unsafe and no responsible scientist would attempt it given the huge health risks that are involved," says Yves Qur, co-chair of the IAP executive committee and former foreign secretary
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Contact: Daniel Schaffer
schaffer@ictp.trieste.it
39-040-2240-538
Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics
22-Sep-2003


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