ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

24 November 2001

URGENT ACTION ALERTS - SAY NO TO FAST TRACK AND EMBRYO CLONING

1. UK: Lobby your MP for a ban on cloning embryos
2. US: Fast Track Vote Scheduled for December 6th!
Call your Representative and say NO to Fast Track!

'there is no need for the creation of cloned embryos, and banning it would not harm patients‚ interests' (from item 1)

regarding item 2: This bill offers no real protections for labor or the environment and tucked inside it is the objective of the US Government and the biotech industry to make the labeling of all genetically engineered crops illegal worldwide.

***

1. Action Alert: Lobby your MP for a ban on cloning embryos

(from "Human Genetics Alert" <Info@hgalert.org>)

On November 26th the House of Lords and on the 29th the House of Commons will be voting on emergency legislation to ban reproductive cloning of human beings.  The new Human Reproductive Cloning Bill‚ is being rushed through Parliament in response to a High Court judgement on November 15th that cloned embryos are not covered by the law (the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990).  This is because the 1990 Act only covers embryos created by fertilisation.  As a result of this judgement, would-be human cloners like Professor Severino Antinori could clone human beings in Britain.

Unfortunately the new legislation has a loophole in it just as large as that in the 1990 Act.  It says: "A person **who places in a woman** a human embryo which has been created otherwise than by fertilisation is guilty of an offence." (emphasis added) However, it does not ban the creation of embryos by cloning, so cloned embryos are still not covered by the law.  Professor Antinori could create cloned embryos in Britain and export them to a country which has no legislation.  Other scientists could do any kind of research on cloned embryos in Britain.  Although the government says it intends to appeal against the High Court judgement, it seems very unlikely to succeed.

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.

In 1990 Parliament clearly intended to outlaw the creation of embryos by cloning. However, another loophole in the Act is that its wording allows the creation of embryos using the ŒDolly the sheep‚ technique in which a cell nucleus is transferred into an unfertilised egg, rather than an embryo.  The Government has been relying on this loophole for the past two years to permit so-called therapeutic cloning: see HGA briefing:
http://www.hgalert.org/cloningbrief.htm
The present Bill is a golden opportunity to achieve what Parliament clearly intended in 1990: to ban the creation of embryos by all cloning techniques.

Banning embryo cloning would not affect stem cell research, since the research uses spare embryos from IVF.  Many scientists are enthusiastic about embryonic stem cell research; however, the stem cell research community is practically unanimous that therapeutic cloning‚ (cloning an embryo for every patient that needs stem cells) is impracticable, because the supply of women's eggs is insufficient.  It would also be prohibitively expensive.  In March 2000, the Royal Society called for a bank of embryonic stem cells of all tissue types, which would overcome the immune rejection problem which is the sole reason for envisaging cloning.  The Medical Research Council is now actively pursuing this solution.  Thus there is no need for the creation of cloned embryos, and banning it would not harm patients‚ interests.

Basic research on nuclear re-programming‚ can be done with animal eggs. Some scientists argue that there is a need for research on how cloning works.  However, since it would not be for immediate clinical applications, such basic research can be done on animal material, rather than on ethically sensitive human embryos.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Please write or email your MP asking him/her to propose or support amendments to the bill which would ban the creation of embryos by cloning.  Just copying the text of this document is likely to be less effective than using your own words.  The address is: House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.

If you do not know your MPs name, but you do know the name of your constituency, take a look at this page.  Tip: you can search the document for the name of your town using Find on this page‚ on the edit menu in Internet Explorer:
http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/alcmad.htm

If you want to email them, use the following rule for working out their email address.  If their name is J. Smith, their email address will be
smithj@parliament.uk
This rule is not infallible, and some MPs do not have an email address at all.  The House of Commons switchboard number to check is: 020 7219 3000.

[for an intro to some of the issues arising out of human genetics:
http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/gmhuman.htm
News service from Human Genetics Alert - info@hgalert.org
To subscribe, mail <mailto:info@hgalert.org> with Œsubscribe‚ in subject line. Options: Daily or weekly - for the latter add "plus weekly"
Links to articles that HGA find on the web will be archived at their website (www.hgalert.org)]

***

2. Fast Track Vote Scheduled for December 6th!

(from Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch)

Call your Representative at
1-800-393-1082 (courtesy of the AFL-CIO) or
1-888-832-4246 (courtesy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

and say NO to Fast Track!

The House GOP leadership has decided that it is "now or never" for a  vote on Fast Track. DeLay, Armey and company have announced that they have set the date of a vote for Thursday the 6th of December. While they still do not have the votes lined up yet to pass Fast Track, they hope that by putting it on the calendar will force Members to take a position with nasty GOP leadership coercion for those who refuse. Meanwhile, having a set date will push the corporate lobby to intensify its efforts.  Plus, the White House has also said all along that they would become more involved once a date certain was set.

We have all been fighting incredibly hard over the last several months, and  victory is now within sight (but so is defeat...)! We know you're getting tired (so are we!), but we have to escalate the opposition in these next few weeks to a whole new level! The bottom line is:  They do not have the votes and can only win if we let our victory slip away! There will be enormous pressure put on the Representatives from the White House, the business lobby, the GOP leadership and all the other "free-traders" - and it will be hard for some Members we need to vote with us to stand up to these forces. We MUST help them stand firm by constantly reminding them that the people who put them in office are counting on them to oppose Fast Track.
 

WE WIN IF WE ALL DO THE FOLLOWING:

CALL your Member of Congress and express your opposition to Fast Track..  Ask for the chief of staff, legislative director or the trade aide.  Demand to know the Representative's position on H.R. 3005 (Fast Track) legislation coming for a vote on December 6th.
 
THANK Members who commit against Fast Track and ask for their commitment in writing to be sent to you immediately.
 
SLAM Members who are in favor of Fast Track - we'll remember in November!
 
PROVIDE INFORMATION along with a dose of political persuasion to Members who are undecided.

VISIT any town hall meetings or other public events that your Representative is organizing and ask questions about Fast Track. Also try to arrange a meeting directly with your Member or just drop by the district office (they have office hours every weekend).

WRITE a letter-to-the-editor on why you oppose Fast Track in your local paper. We can provide you with sample letters:
gtwfield@citizen.org (let us know what your particular interest is - labor, environment, food safety, state sovereignty, etc).

DO IT DAILY UNTIL DECEMBER 6 AND GET ALL YOUR FRIENDS TO DO THE SAME!
 

PLEASE TELL US WHAT YOUR MEMBER SAYS!
CONTACT gtwfield@citizen.org /  (202)-546-4996

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest
in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Margrete Strand Rangnes
Field Director
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
215 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, Washington DC, 20003 USA
mstrand@citizen.org & www.tradewatch.org
Ph: + 202-454-5106, Fax: + 202-547 7392

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