MPs eye law on human cloning

March 7, 1997

MPS ARE expected to recommend a tightening of British law on human cloning before the general election takes place.

The cross-party Science and Technology Select Committee took evidence earlier this week from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh to clarify whether present laws restricting human cloning are sufficient.

A spokesman for Dr Jeremy Bray, a Labour member of the committee, said she expected the committee to report by the end of the month at the latest.

Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, cloning human embryos is banned. But the technology used by the Roslin Institute to create Dolly, the now infamous Scottish cloned sheep, did not use an embryo but a cell from an adult sheep.

There is concern that the use of adult cells is not covered by the law, which could leave open the possibility that someone might take cells from an adult human and insert them into an unfertilised human egg to try and produce a clone.

A spokesman for HFEA said the authority would not issue a licence for a laboratory to use any cloning technique for creating humans, including the methodology created by the Roslin Institute.

"It is for the committee to decide whether the law is strict enough and explicit enough at the moment," he said.

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