01 March 2007

Chimera Research Ban

Listening to Sir David King, the government's chief science adviser, speaking before the Commons Science and Technology Committee yesterday on the Government's proposed ban against the creation of human-animal chimeras, you could be forgiven for thinking that New Labour was becoming the Neo-Luddite party.

The Wellcome Trust on the UN declarationIn truth, however, the Government is out of step with the rest of the Western democratic world and appears to have turned a blind eye to the 2005 United Nations Declaration on Human Cloning, which called on all nations "to adopt all measures necessary to prohibit all forms of human cloning inasmuch as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life." The UK is also the only state besides Belgium among the 46 countries of Europe that still refuses to ratify the 1997 European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, which further means we remain unable to sign successive agreements, such as that prohibiting human cloning.

Tuesday's Times reported that ministers are going to drop their intended legislation for fear it might damage British science. In fact, any ban might actually begin to restore international credibility to British science, for we have long surrendered the moral high ground and risk being seen as an "ethical rogue state".


Kent Biologist said...

The Telegraph is also reporting the Government's apparent U-turn: In an article titled "Go-ahead signalled for animal-human embryos" it quotes Caroline Flint, the health minister, as saying "It could be that some areas, let's take for example the issue of cybrids, can be regulated by a simple process, but some of the other areas of chimeras might pose other questions that nobody might want to do down."