The new legislation, approved yesterday with 352 votes in favor and 60 against, should be ratified within the next few days by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The bill states that research with human embryonic stem cells is conditioned by three factors: the embryos must have been frozen for at least three years, successful implantation is not possible and the biological parents must give approval.
The law prohibits human cloning and the cloning of embryonic stem cells for therapeutic ends.
Additionally, the law authorizes research, cultivation and commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
According to estimates published by the Brazilian press, the law will allow for research on some 30,000 frozen embryos in the country’s in vitro fertilization clinics.
The national conference of Brazilian bishops sent a letter to the deputies earlier in the week to remind them that the use and elimination of human beings in the embryonic state is not a sign of progress, but rather “the sign of an attitude contrary to ethics without precedents in human history.”
“We are happy with the achievements of science which allow for the cure of certain sicknesses that have genetic reasons,” they said.
After applauding “recent research with the responsible use of adult stem cells,” which is carried out in full respect of human life, the bishops explained that it is not the same as putting an end to human embryos whose “life must be respected, from beginning to end.”