Brussels, 14 Sep 2004
Germany's Ethics Council announced on 13 September that it will continue to oppose the cloning of human embryos for research despite calls for the lifting of the moratorium.
The Ethics Council was created in 2001 in order to advise the federal government on ethical issues in the life sciences. It comprises scientists, theologians, business executives and trade union representatives, and opinion is known to be divided within the Council on the issue of cloning.
Presenting the Council's decision, Education and Research Minister Edelgard Bulmahn declared that 'the moratorium is appropriate for the current stage of research'.
Ms Bulmahn added that the very nature of regulations regarding scientific research means that they must be reviewed regularly as further knowledge is acquired.
Human cloning has been prohibited in Germany since 1991. The subject has been discussed many times since then, but the moratorium has remained. The issue was brought to the fore once again when the UK government relaxed its restrictions on human cloning in July and approved a first licence for cloning in August. Immediately after the decision by the UK government, the German Ethics Council called on the German government to relaunch the debate.
The matter is unlikely to be dropped, however - many are worried that more lenient conditions in other countries will lead to German scientists moving elsewhere to pursue their research.