Britain Squares off over Human-Embryo Research ; the Government on Wednesday Backed a Plan to Allow Scientists to Research Stem-Cell 'Body Repair Kits.'

By Alexander MacLeod, | The Christian Science Monitor, August 18, 2000 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Britain Squares off over Human-Embryo Research ; the Government on Wednesday Backed a Plan to Allow Scientists to Research Stem-Cell 'Body Repair Kits.'


Alexander MacLeod,, The Christian Science Monitor


Britain is poised for what promises to be a lively and possibly angry national debate, after the government on Wednesday backed a proposal to allow limited cloning of human embryos.

The move, which would permit scientists to run "therapeutic cloning" experiments aimed at finding new cures for disease, is bound to put pressure on Washington to let federal funds be used for embryo research.

Members of Parliament will vote this fall on whether to change laws on embryo research, currently restricted to the treatment of infertility. The ruling Labour Party's large majority in the House of Commons appears to guarantee passage. In a rare move, however, the government said Parliament members will be allowed to vote "according to conscience," rather than toe the party line. Liam Fox, spokesman on health issues for the opposition Conservative Party, said he would vote against the plan, noting there was "genuine and deep-rooted political unease about many of the medical techniques we can now employ."

The latest proposals would maintain a ban on cloning entire human beings, but already there are signs that the issue will become a political football as anticloning groups line up against recommendations by Liam Donaldson, the government's chief medical officer. Professor Donaldson on Wednesday announced that, after a year's study, an expert panel had decided in favor of experiments using human stem cells to develop what some scientists are calling "body repair kits." The British government immediately endorsed its view.

As many as 200 stem cells are present in the human embryo when it is only days old. Scientists believe these cells have potential to develop into almost any kind of body tissue, and that they could be used to treat degenerative diseases as well as to generate replacement organs.

"Stem-cell research opens up a new medical frontier," Donaldson said. "It offers enormous potential for new treatments for chronic disease, injuries, and the relief of human suffering."

But the government's plan is being greeted with dismay by anti- abortion and religious groups that maintain such research is unethical and unnecessary.

Enthusiasm for stem-cell research is being fueled by recent successes in the field, as well as growing unease over the use of animal organs as replacements for human organs diagnosed as diseased. On Tuesday, scientists in Philadelphia and New Jersey were reported to have produced human nerve cells using stem cells from bone marrow from adults. Also this week, researchers at Scotland's Roslin Institute, where Dolly the sheep was cloned, abandoned work on using genetically modified pigs to create organs that might be used to make up for the worldwide shortage of human donors.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Britain Squares off over Human-Embryo Research ; the Government on Wednesday Backed a Plan to Allow Scientists to Research Stem-Cell 'Body Repair Kits.'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?