ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
14 December 2000


Almost unbelievably, the human cloning threshold is about to be crossed without any proper public debate or even a vote directly on the issue!

If you're in the UK, please respond to this request from Dr David King of CAHGE to help give this issue a higher public profile.
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Hi Jonathan,

I'm trying to get people to write letters on cloning to the national press: the vote is next tuesday. Could you circulate your list with a call to do that? The main points are:

1.    Adult stem cells are just as promising as embryonic stem (ES) cells and research or ES
       cells is NOT necessary for research on adult stemcells to progress. The European
       Commission's ethics advisers said that ES work is 'premature' and ethically dubious until
       the other options have been explored.

2.    The government is being irresponsible in allowing embryo cloning before there is an
       *international* ban on reproductive cloning.  Britiain is pushing forward recklessly and
        bucking international opinion. If British scientists develop embryo cloning, scientists in
        the US or Chile, for example, could use that immediately to clone a baby. The government
        should announce a moratorium on embryo cloning until we have a global treaty, and should
        take the lead in pushing for such a treaty.

3.    Why are MPs not being given a vote on cloning, only on the purposes for ES research?
        This is an abuse of democracy and a deliberate deception of the public.

Dave King
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Attached is our latest letter to mps

letters can be sent to:
The Campaign Against Human Genetic Engineering
PO Box 6313 London N16 0DY Phone: (44) (0)208 809 4513 fax: (44) (0)207
502 7516

Dear ,

Invitation to a meeting on human cloning and stem cell research,
December 18th

We would like to invite you to a meeting next Monday on the current controversy over human cloning and stem cells research. In addition to the leading stem cell researcher, Professor Neil Scolding, the speakers include two key ethicists who oppose human cloning, but are not
'pro-lifers'. If you cannot attend the meeting, we would like to bring a few points to your attention. We sent you a more detailed briefing a few weeks ago, further copies of which can be obtained at ~cahge.

There are alternatives. Scientists are proposing to create embryos by cloning and then to produce tissues for transplantation, from 'embryonic stem' (ES) cells taken from the cloned embryo. The reason for cloning the patient's own cells is to produce tissues genetically identical to the patient, thereby preventing the patient's immune system from rejecting the transplant. However, an alternative method of producing tissues for transplantation would start with adult stem cells from the
patient's own body. Recent research on adult stem cells is at least as promising as that on embryonic stem cells. It has been claimed that research on embryonic stem cells is necessary for the success of adult stem cell research, but leading adult stem cell researchers have recently stated that this is simply not true.

Embryo cloning risks reproductive cloning. Once viable embryos could be created by cloning, it would be easy to use this technology for reproductive cloning, for example in the USA, where there is no ban. The Government's assurances that there is no risk of reproductive cloning,
because the HFEA would not allow it here, is irresponsible. The British government should be pressed to lead efforts for an international treaty banning reproductive cloning, and until this is in place there should be a moratorium on embryo cloning.

There will be no 'free vote on cloning'. It is clear that the public is mainly concerned about the cloning aspect, and in August the government stated that MPs would be allowed a 'free vote on cloning'. However the vote next week will only concern the second stage: the derivation and
use of ES cells. MPs and the public have been misled into thinking that you will be voting on the legalisation of cloning. In fact, as the recent report from the Chief Medical Officer made clear, it is already within the powers of the HFEA to permit the creation of embryos by cloning. Please ask the government for a commitment to allow MPs to vote on the issue of cloning.

In conclusion, we hope you will support the position of the European Commission's group of ethical advisers who reflected European public opinion in their recent statement that the British government's rush to allow cloning of embryos is 'premature, since there is a wide field of
research to be carried out with alternative sources of human stem cells (from spare embryos, foetal tissues and adult stem cells).'

Yours sincerely
Dr. David King
Coordinator, The Campaign Against Human Genetic Engineering

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