Cloning Humans Is Unsafe, Says U.S. Panel

National Academy of Sciences Issues Warning

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 18, 2002 ( Cloning human beings for the purpose of reproduction is medically unsafe and should be banned, a panel of the National Academy of Sciences concluded.

«Human reproductive cloning should not now be practiced. It is dangerous and likely to fail,» the academy´s report said Friday, according to the Associated Press.

The report comes even as White House bioethics advisers are weighing the benefits of medical advances against the moral hazards of human cloning. On Thursday President George W. Bush challenged the ethics group to be the «conscience of the country.»

The academy´s report said that animal cloning has shown that «only a small percentage of attempts are successful; that many of the clones die during gestation, even in late stages; that newborn clones are often abnormal; and that the procedures may carry serious risks for the mother.» The report came from the panel on the scientific and medical aspects of human cloning.

However, the panel of scientists added that the ban should not extend to cloning of embryos in order to extract stem cells that have the potential to treat life-threatening diseases. That practice is sometimes called therapeutic cloning to differentiate it from reproductive cloning — even though both entail destruction of tiny human lives.

The science panel urged that the safety of reproductive cloning be re-evaluated every five years but that the procedure be banned during that time.

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