May 28, 2024


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UN calls for ban on all forms of human cloning

 A non-binding ban on all forms of human cloning, including research or therapeutic cloning, has been passed by the UN General Assembly. More than half of the 155 nations voting supported the resolution, giving a moral victory to opponents of therapeutic cloning and embryonic stem cell research. The resolution states that "member states are called upon to prohibit all forms of human cloning inasmuch as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life".

The controversial statement was immediately given a big raspberry by countries where therapeutic cloning is already legal, such as Britain, China, Belgium and India. They contend that the phrase "human life" would be interpreted too broadly and should be replaced by "human being" — which would exclude embryos, in their view. The UK Health Secretary, John Reid, said that the UK stem cell research industry remained "open for business".

The issue of cloning has been debated in the UN since 2003, but it ultimately proved impossible to reconcile governments which regarded the human embryo as a human person and those which regarded it as mere cellular matter. Although the media tended to depict the vote as a victory for a socially conservative US government and a clutch of Catholic nations, the resolution’s supporters were a diverse group, with many Arab and African nations supporting it. Russia missed the vote, but its representative supported it.

The Ethiopian representative praised the resolution as a clear message against unethical research which turns human life into an object for experimentation. He called for cloning research funds to be diverted into R&D for cures for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.