European Union Seeks U.N. Ban on Reproductive Cloning

In a “Race Against the Scientists,” Says Observer

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NEW YORK, SEPT. 28, 2001 ( France and Germany are leading a European Union effort to create an international convention to ban reproductive human cloning, the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) reported in its weekly Friday Fax.

The two countries recently petitioned the U.N. General Assembly to place this issue on its agenda so that talks could begin as soon as possible. Debate could begin in November.

The French and Germans have proposed this “urgent initiative” in response to reports that scientists in Europe and the United States are already in the process of cloning humans, C-FAM said.

A representative for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that, “given the speed of such scientific developments,” nations must “take the necessary measures to protect ourselves from the perils of a slippery slope that would have unpredictable consequences for humanity.”

Christian Müch, a legal adviser to the German Mission in New York, said the European Union is in a “race against the scientists” working to produce viable cloned humans.

Cloning involves inserting the nucleus of a cell from one of the body´s organs or tissues into an unfertilized egg that has had its own nucleus removed. This results in the creation of a human embryo with the same genetic code of another human being.

If the embryo is intended for implantation in a womb — and for eventual live birth — it is considered a reproductive clone. If it is created solely for research purposes — for the extraction of its stem cells, which results in its destruction — it is considered a therapeutic clone.

This European Union initiative is silent about therapeutic cloning. Though Germany bans therapeutic cloning, Müch said the Union chose not to address this issue because it “is not as black and white” within the international community and its inclusion would “bog down negotiations.”

Last December the British House of Commons backed new government rules allowing for therapeutic cloning, but other European Union countries condemned this decision, as did the European Parliament.

A German politician warned, “We don´t want to repeat the dreadful genetic experiments made by the Nazi regime.”

The European Parliament passed a resolution asserting there was no moral distinction between therapeutic and reproductive cloning, and charged that Britain was guilty of a “linguistic slight of hand” in its efforts to justify therapeutic cloning.

Müch expects a binding worldwide agreement against reproductive cloning within three years.

Austin Ruse, president of C-FAM, observed: “Pro-lifers will find it interesting to ally themselves with the E.U., which is very pro-abortion at the U.N.”

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