Human Genetics Alert

Unit 112 Aberdeen House 22-24 Highbury Grove, London N5 2EA
Phone: 020 7704 6100 fax: 020 7359 8423 


For immediate Release, 23 November 2001

HGA says Cloning Bill fails to block key loopholes

Human Genetics Alert (HGA) today said the Government should ban the creation of cloned embryos. It criticised proposed cloning legislation (1), which would still allow scientists to use Britain to create cloned embryos, which could be exported to create a cloned baby abroad. This because the bill only bans the placing of cloned embryos in a woman. According to the High Court judgement of November 15th, cloned embryos themselves are not covered by the law, and the proposed bill does nothing to change that.

Allowing the cloning of human embryos will also allow scientists abroad to use the same scientific techniques for reproductive cloning.  It is reckless to allow the development and publication of cloning techniques in the absence of a global ban on reproductive cloning.

HGA is writing to MPs, pointing out that a ban on cloning embryos would not harm stem cell research. Scientists agree that the scenario of creating a cloned embryo for every patient (so-called therapeutic cloning) is impracticable because of the inadequate supply of women's eggs. It would also be prohibitively expensive. Instead, the Medical Research Council is creating a bank of embryonic stem cells, matched to all possible tissue types, which would overcome the immune rejection problem which is the sole reason for envisaging cloning. Thus there is no need for the creation of cloned embryos, and banning it would not harm patients' interests. Basic research on cloning can be done with animal eggs.

Dr David King, Coordinator of Human Genetics Alert, said: "This is a golden opportunity to ban the creation of embryos by cloning, which is what Parliament clearly intended in 1990. The Government must not leave any more loopholes for unscrupulous scientists."

 For more information contact Dr David King: 020 7704 6100.

Notes for Editors

1. The Human Reproductive Cloning Bill, to be voted on by the House of Lords on November 26th and the House of Commons on Nov 29th.

2. Human Genetics Alert is an independent watchdog group which campaigns on human genetics issues. It is not a pro-life group, and supports women's rights to choose to terminate pregnancy. Dr David King is a former geneticist.