Brussels, 24 January 2002
A government-sponsored bill to lift a ban on embryonic research has passed its first reading in the French Parliament.
France's current laws in this area were adopted in 1994, before the discovery of human embryonic and adult stem cells. The bill aims to revise the country's legislation to allow research on embryos for medical purposes, but upholds a ban on cloning.
The bill would allow scientist to obtain stem cells from frozen embryos created during in-vitro-fertilisation, under certain guidelines, but would outlaw both reproductive and therapeutic cloning. Offenders could face up to 20 years in prison.
Although the bill passed its first reading in the National Assembly with little debate, some MPs have urged stronger guarantees that it will not lead to cloning.