US President George Bush has condemned stem cell advances in South Korea and declared that he would veto any legislation aimed at loosening restriction on federal government funding. “I’m very concerned about cloning,” he told the press. “I worry about a world in which cloning becomes acceptable.” His remarks were aimed at a bipartisan bill to allow funding for research on “spare” IVF embryos. Elsewhere, the news gave new impetus to supporters of the controversial technology. In Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der was expected to announce his support in a speech next month, although this may change with the early election which he announced a few days ago.
Scientists elsewhere feel left in the dust by the Koreans. Completely overshadowed by Hwang’s announcement was the news that a team had cloned the first human embryo in Britain — and the first in the West, as the Telegraph reminded its readers. Unfortunately, the Best in the West at the Centre for Life, in Newcastle upon Tyne, were left mulling over the fact that they still were two years behind the Koreans, although they joined the chorus and hailed the development as “excellent, impressive and historic”. They had not even managed to extract stem cells from their embryos. Sir Chris Evans, a biotech entrepreneur, believes that this underlines the urgency of raising money for British science. “Countries are forging ahead whilst we ponder our greatness in this field,” he mused.
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