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Developmental Biologists Say No to Cloning

10 July 2001 7:00 pm
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Drawing the line. Cloning mice is one thing, but developmental biologists urge a ban on cloning people.

KYOTO, JAPAN--Trying to separate responsible researchers from what one scientist calls "adventurers," the general assembly of the International Society of Developmental Biologists meeting here adopted a resolution calling for an international moratorium on reproductive cloning of human beings.

The resolution overwhelmingly passed the general assembly, with just a handful of opposing voters who questioned whether such a resolution would have any practical effect. But many scientists said they wished the society had gone further. They hoped for separate resolutions defending therapeutic cloning, which might be used to produce replacement tissues that would not be rejected by a patient's immune system, and the use of human embryonic stem cells for basic research. "If societies like this don't provide scientific leadership on these issues, who will?" asks biologist John Coleman of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

The resolution, approved on 10 July, doesn't carry the force of law anywhere, but Walter Gehring, a developmental biologist at University of Basel in Switzerland and president of the society, says they hope the moratorium will help prevent "the misuse of our techniques" by ostracizing scientists who don't abide by the ban.

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14th International Congress of Developmental Biology

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