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Human therapeutic cloning

Developments during the year 2004

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Note:

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.

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Cloning news items during 2004:

bullet2004-JAN-4: NJ: New Jersey becomes second state to permit stem cell research: Governor James E. McGreevey signed a stem cell research bill into law. Such research is now permitted in both New Jersey and California. Bills are pending in Illinois and New York. Accompanied by Christopher Reeve, Governor McGreevey said: "Today we celebrate the possible in our state. It is our obligation as a people and as a state to move the frontiers of science forward." Reeve noted that many people had asked what stem cells could do to cure his spinal cord injury. He said:  "It is not about what stem cells will do for one individual. What it's about, this legislation, is about whether or not we have the courage to protect the freedom of ethical and responsible scientific inquiry." Marie Tasy of New Jersey Right to Life said: "We were hopeful that perhaps he would take the expert opinions and concerns into consideration before formulating his final decision, which unfortunately he did not." 1
bullet2004-AUG-10: UK: Britain issues cloning license: In 2001, Britain became the first nation to authorize cloning to produce stem cells for research. The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority issued its first license to a research team at Newcastle University. They hope to use therapeutic cloning to create insulin-producing cells that could cure persons with diabetes. The Authority said: "After careful consideration of all the scientific, ethical, legal and medical aspects of the project, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority License Committee agreed to grant an initial one year research license to the Newcastle Center for Life," "This is an important area of research and a responsible use of technology. The HFEA is there to make sure any research involving human embryos is scrutinized and properly regulated." 2
bullet2004-NOV-02: CA: Proposition 71 on the ballot: If passed, Proposition 71 would allow the state of California to invest 3 billion dollars of state funds in embryonic stem cell research. It has the support of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, many Nobel Prize winners, the late actor Christopher Reevertly before his death, the California Chamber of Commerce, actor Michael J. Fox, and George P. Shultz, secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan. Some feminists are opposed; they fear that the demand for embryos will create "egg farms." Social and religious conservatives are generally opposed, mainly because they regard 5 day old embryos as human persons. State funding may be the only way that stem cell research will produce cures. Venture capital is generally not available, because of the time line: medical treatments may be decades away. Investors generally want faster return on their money. 3
bullet2004-NOV-03: CA: Proposition 71 approved: California voters approved Proposition 71 by a wide margin: 59 to 41%.
bullet2004-NOV-04: Korea: Researcher anticipates change in U.S. regulations: Dr Hwang Woo-suk, a embryonic stem cell researcher at the Seoul National University, said that he expects: "...the Bush administration to ease its strong opposition to therapeutic cloning as he is now free from the burden of being elected again...For the past four years, he might have had to stick to such policies in order to be re-elected with the help of his strong backing by conservative groups. But now he can have the leeway to come out with more rational measures....In the long term, I think the United States would allow stem cell research on a staged basis. I am not too disheartened about Bush's reelection." 4
bullet2004-DEC-18: UN: Cloning ban abandoned: Diplomats at the United Nations abandoned efforts to create a treaty which banns cloning. The United States and 60 other countries wanted both reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning banned. 24 nations wanted only the banning of reproductive cloning. Since the UN works on the basis of a consensus, no further progress appears possible. Italy has proposed a non-binding draft declaration to ban all reproductive cloning. Delegates are expected to approve that declaration. 5

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References:

  1. Krista Larson, "N.J. 2nd State to OK Stem Cell Research," Associated Press, 2004-JAN-5, at: http://www.newsday.com/
  2. "U.K. issues first cloning license," CBS News, 2004-AUG-11, at: http://www.cbsnews.com/
  3. Ceci Connolly, "California Puts Stem Cells to a Popular Test. $3 Billion Plan Would Bypass Bush Policy," Washington Post, 2004-OCT-25, Page A01, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  4. Kim Tae-gyu, "Scientist Expects Bush to Permit Therapeutic Human Cloning," he Korea Times, 2004-NOV-4, at: http://times.hankooki.com/
  5. "U.N. ditches anti-cloning treaty," Citizen Link, 2004-NOV-19.

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Copyright 2004 & 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2004-NOV-04
Last updated 2005-FEB-11

Author: Bruce A Robinson

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