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An Immediate Ban on Human Cloning Is Needed

For Immediate Release. November 27, 2001President George W. Bush should be commended for promoting morality and the sanctity of life when he condemned the work of scientists at Advanced Cell Technology Inc. (ACT), a biotechnology firm based in Worcester  Massachusetts that announced it had created human embryos through cloning.  Although, the research was in its initial phase of development, all cloned embryos died.

According to mounting evidence, cloning healthy animals is becoming more difficult than scientists first realized. Often problems arise from cloned organisms such as heart defects, lung problems, malfunctioning immune systems and severe delays in growth and development. For example, appearing normal as young adults, some cloned mice suddenly grew grotesquely fat. Until an age equivalent to a 30-year-old human, the fat mice appeared fine. Developmental abnormalities have also been seen in cloned mice like ear twitching and taking longer to open their eyes. Furthermore, cow clones have exhibited developmental problems with their hearts, including the defect of enlarged hearts.

Researchers have indicated that the genetic defects of most often seem to be fatal at the very beginning of life. For example, typically 100 attempts are required with cattle to create a clone that results in a single live calf. Although only 2-3 percent of the cloned experiments succeed, cloning mice, in comparison to cows, is much more efficient.

Scientists have learned that mice cloned from embryonic stem cells may look identical to normal mice but are harboring unique genetic abnormalities. These unseen abnormalities may explain the mystery as to why so many clones do not survive to birth.

Scientists may face unexpected challenges as they try to turn the controversial cells into treatment for various degenerative conditions if the same defects are true for human embryonic stem cells.

In July, the House of Representatives, by a vote of 265-162 passed a ban on cloning.  However, despite the view of the President and many Congressional leaders calling for a law to stop fast-moving cloning research,  Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (Democrat-South Dakota) has no plan to rush a ban on human cloning.  Debate on the issue was avoided in the Senate this month and postponed until March 2002 after Senate leaders promised extensive hearings.  In 1998, the year after the announcement that scientists had cloned Dolly, the sheep, the Senate rejected a broad cloning ban.

"It is time for, the Senate to provide worldwide moral and ethical leadership by preventing scientists from creating human embryos and then destroying them and pass a complete ban on human cloning immediately," said Dr. Joel P. Rutkowski, president of the American Voice Institute of Public Policy. "Life is a precious, God-given gift and should not be subject to reckless and irresponsible scientific experimentation that could produce fatal flaws and deformities in the name of medical scientific advancement."

For Interviews Contact:

Joel P. Rutkowski, P.h.D.
President, The American Voice Institute Of Public Policy
757-436-5927
jrutkowski@americanvoiceinstitute.org

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