Schroeder Backs Research on Imported Human Embryos

German Won´t Halt Trafficking of Stem Cells

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BERLIN, JULY 4, 2001 ( German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder today said he would not bar scientists from carrying out controversial research on human embryo cells if the cells are imported, Reuters reported.

His statement came after the government signaled it would not halt the importation of cloned human cells.

German politicians have engaged in a heated debate about the ethics of modern biotech research that could help conquer diseases, at the expense of destroying tiny human lives.

After talking with Schroeder, leaders of the Christian Democratic and Green parties revealed late Monday that two ethical commissions will give their recommendations on the issue at the end of the year.

German law prohibits the cloning of human embryos for research, but not the importation of them.

The Christian Democratic Party said it will ask Parliament on Thursday to order a moratorium on the importation of these cells, but leaders of the government coalition, composed of Social Democrats and Greens, said they would block the motion.

Several German universities have announced projects that would use imported stem cells for research. This announcement has exerted pressure on politicians to loosen the laws on such research.

Schroeder appointed an ethics council in May to establish guidelines for the powerful biotechnological companies. A parliamentary commission is also studying the matter.

German President Johannes Rau has spoken out against research into embryonic stem cells, citing the «dreadful» memory of the Nazi eugenics program to create a master race.

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