Genomic Medicine Institute to Be Set Up Despite Bishops' Opposition

Mexican Political Leaders Deny Facility Will Do Cloning

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MEXICO CITY, JULY 21, 2004 ( President Vicente Fox signed a decree authorizing the establishment of the National Institute of Genomic Medicine, which the country’s bishops oppose because it does not explicitly reject human cloning.

During a ceremony Monday, Fox referred to genomic medicine as a strategic and priority matter for the country’s progress.

He insisted that no scientific progress, regardless of its relevance or convenience, must trespass the fundamental rights, freedom and dignity of persons.

For his part, Julio Frenk Mora, secretary of health and principal promoter of the project, said that genomic medicine has no relation whatsoever to human cloning, or with the manipulation of embryos, or assisted reproduction.

«The manipulation of cells of human embryos has not been and is not on the institute’s scientific agenda,» he said.

Yet, the Mexican bishops’ conference last May warned that in the law establishing the National Institute of Genomic Medicine, the clause expressly prohibiting human cloning was eliminated.

The bishops expressed concern about the need to respect the genomic identity of Mexicans. They insisted that a prohibition must be applied to patents and uses of this patrimony for commercial ends.

Both President Fox as well as Secretary Frenk insisted that the institute is not going to violate the dignity of persons nor will it be used to clone human embryos. Still, the bishops said that, from the legal point of view, the approval of the institute leaves open the possibility of cloning.

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