Brussels, 23 Sep 2003
Scientific academies from across the world have issued a joint statement calling on the United Nations (UN) to introduce a global ban on human reproductive cloning, whilst arguing that embryonic cloning for research and therapeutic purposes should be exempt from any eventual convention.
The statement was issued by the InterAcademy Panel on international issues (IAP), with the support of over 60 major scientific bodies. It will be presented to the UN committee on cloning, which meets in New York at the end of September to examine the issue of a worldwide ban.
'National academies of science from all parts of the world are united in supporting a worldwide ban on the reproductive cloning of human beings, and in calling for cloning to obtain embryonic stem cells for both research and therapeutic purposes to be excluded from this ban,' reads the IAP statement.
'Scientific research on [...] mammals shows that there is a markedly higher than normal incidence of foetal disorders and loss throughout pregnancy, and of malformation and death among newborns. There is no reason to suppose that the outcome would be different in humans.'
Even if researchers found ways of reducing the medical risk to the cloned foetus and pregnant mother, the declaration stresses that: 'the practice would still face strong ethical, social and economic objections.'
Yves Quéré, co-chairperson of the IAP executive committee, explained why a global convention is necessary: 'Human reproductive cloning is already illegal in some countries, but other countries have yet to pass any laws or regulations. Failure by the international community to issue a worldwide ban on human reproductive cloning will enable unscrupulous individuals to continue to experiment on humans.'
By calling for exemption for therapeutic cloning, the IAP hopes to promote consensus on an issue that threatens to split the UN committee on cloning: the scope of the proposed ban.
The statement argues that: 'Cloning for research and therapeutic purposes [...] has considerable potential from a scientific perspective, and should be excluded from the ban on human cloning.' It concludes by adding that: 'Both policies should be reviewed periodically in the light of scientific and social developments.'
To read the IAP statement, please consult the following web address: