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Unformatted text preview: Public Policy In late 2003, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly once again failed to pass a treaty on human cloning; the European Union (EU) reached a stalemate on funding for stem-cell research; and the US Congress abandoned its efforts to pass cloning legislation. Formulation of public policy at the international level becomes very difficult when little consensus exists on the moral and ethical issues involved. Within Europe, for example, the UK, Belgium, and Sweden have fairly permissive legislation on stem-cell research, whereas countries such as Germany and Italy are highly restrictive. 1 Even within a country such as the USA, a pluralism of belief systems can make consensus impossible to attain. In development of public policy on embryonic stem-cell research, an international body or individual state must recognise that many people hold strong views on the moral status of the human embryo. Since a human blastocyst must be destroyed to obtain stem cells, people who believe that the blastocyst is a human being will regard the process as killing. If those who hold this view form a critical mass, public policy probably will not support embryonic stem-cell research. In some political contexts a compromise can be reached: to permit stem- cell extraction only from surplus embryos developed as part of fertility treatment and destined to be destroyed, or to allow research only with embryos or stem-cell lines already in existence at a particular date. Issues in public policy on cloning overlap somewhat with general stem-cell matters but have additional dimensions. Prohibition of cloning for reproductive reasons is directed at prevention of the birth of children who are genetic copies of already existing individuals. Legislation on cloning for research, however, deals mainly with development of stem-cell lines through somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), thus raising issues about a specific type of stem-cell research. This article will examine the UN’s failure to pass a treaty on cloning and the EU’s inability to agree on policies for funding of stem-cell research. In some cases, actions taken by individual countries might provide exemplars for processes at the international level. In other cases, lessons learned at the international level could be instructive for countries that find themselves at an impasse. The UN and cloning Reproductive cloning Currently, the international community agrees that human cloning for reproductive reasons should not be attempted. The rationale cites safety considerations in view of the many difficulties and defects reported in the cloning of animals. 2 This argument, which lends support to at least a temporary ban on reproductive cloning, is almost universally accepted by both scientists and ethicists....
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- Spring '08
- European Union, Embryonic stem cell, reproductive cloning