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Cloning issues inspire synopsis of intense activity

The European Commission, Life Sciences Directorate, has published "Societal, medical and ethical implications of cloning" - the Proceedings of a workshop held at the Royal Society, London, in November 1997. The first part contains the lectures and debates transcribed from the...

The European Commission, Life Sciences Directorate, has published "Societal, medical and ethical implications of cloning" - the Proceedings of a workshop held at the Royal Society, London, in November 1997. The first part contains the lectures and debates transcribed from the conference, while the second part includes declarations from ethics national committees and international bodies (including the European Commission). The publication provides a useful synopsis of the intense activity, which followed news of the scientific achievement of the cloning of Dolly the sheep. That was published in February 1997, after which society at large questioned the ethics of the application of cloning to humans. "There is no doubt that scientifically we have reached a watershed in the understanding of reproduction in general," declared Dr Francoise Shenfield of the Centre of Medical Ethics, University College London Medical School, in concluding the conference. "Nor is there any doubt that the concerns raised by this achievement (cloning Dolly the sheep) crystallize many of the private and public fears linked to the field ever since reproduction has made more news in its assisted fashion than when performed in the old-fashioned way," she said. "The many national and supranational bodies, which have responded to the challenge, have generally one common point: cloning must not be used for human reproduction (as) it goes against the psychological and ethical grain (in) all instances, whether lay or religious. "The use of cloning for research purposes, however, does not raise the same consensus, but we found the two same poles of opinion as we find concerning embryo research in general," concluded Dr Shenfield.