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Biotechnology ethics advisors give opinion on cloning

The European Commission's Group of Advisors on the Ethical Implications of Biotechnology has recently submitted an opinion on cloning.

The independent panel adopted its opinion on the request of Jacques Santer, President of the European Commission, in the wake of the controve...
The European Commission's Group of Advisors on the Ethical Implications of Biotechnology has recently submitted an opinion on cloning.

The independent panel adopted its opinion on the request of Jacques Santer, President of the European Commission, in the wake of the controversy raised by the successful cloning of a sheep in Edinburgh in early 1997. The opinion is the ninth adopted by the group since its establishment in 1992, and is based on the results of a round table, held in April 1997, at which a wide-ranging debate was held, involving representatives of all interested parties.

Concerning the cloning of animals, the opinion states that:

- Research on cloning of animals is acceptable only if carried out with strict regard to animal welfare, and under the supervision of licensing bodies;
- Cloning of farm animals is only acceptable when the aims and methods are ethically justified and if genetic diversity is preserved.

As far as the cloning of humans is concerned, the group states that human reproductive cloning should be clearly condemned at a European level. The practice is ethically unacceptable, not only because of the high potential risks, but also on the grounds of instrumentalization and eugenics. Any attempts to make genetically identical embryos for clinical use in assisted reproduction should also be prohibited.

The group calls for the Community to express clearly its condemnation of human reproductive cloning in the forthcoming legal texts concerning the Fifth RTD Framework Programme and the Directive on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions. The Commission should contribute to the organization of public debate on the subject, and to involve, at European level, universities and research institutes.

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