Amidst bitter controversy, the UK’s fertility medicine watchdog is preparing to approve the nation’s first human clones. A Serbian scientist at Newcastle University who left Munich because of Germany’s ban on embryonic stem cell research has lodged an application with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to clone embryos for diabetes research. In the course of the experiment, Dr Miodrag Stojkovic (pictured, right) will create embryos using leftover eggs from IVF treatment and then destroy them for their stem cells.
When news of the proposed experiment broke, arguments for and against research cloning surfaced once again. One of the scientists involved, Professor Alison Murdoch, explained: “We are not trying to clone a baby… These embryos have no more moral status than blood taken from a patient.” And Dr Stojkovic asked, “Why put something in the rubbish bin when it can be used in such a valuable way?”
The lobby group Human Genetics Alert has written to the HFEA urging that Dr Stojkovic’s application be rejected. “This research is a waste of public money, and crosses important ethical lines for the first time,” said HGA’s director, molecular biologist Dr David King.
“It is very unlikely to produce anything medically useful, but it will be a great help for those who want to clone babies. It looks like scientists trying to find a use for cloning, so the United Nations won’t ban it. We don’t believe that embryos are people with rights to life, but neither is it right to create them as mere raw material for research.”
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