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Call for ban on human cloning

The cloning debate flared when Dolly was created in 1997  

LONDON, England -- Banning human reproductive cloning worldwide is the only way to thwart ventures to clone humans, the UK Royal Society says.

In a report released on Wednesday to the House of Lords Ad Hoc Committee on Stem Cell Research, the society calls for an international moratorium on human cloning experiments.

It did also acknowledge the importance of therapeutic cloning -- reproducing tissue, including neurons, bone, skin and heart muscle to treat injuries and disease.

The House of Lords passed new rules in January allowing for the cloning of human embryos for disease research, but other nations, such as France and Spain, have banned cloning entirely.

France bans human cloning  

Professor Richard Gardner, chairman of the group that prepared the report, believes that such a ban would receive public support and increase public faith in science. He said that there were great dangers in cloning animals.

''Our experience with animals suggest that there would be a very real danger of creating seriously handicapped individuals if anybody tries to implant cloned human embryos into the womb,'' Gardner said.

''Responsible scientists across the world should not ignore the public's well-founded opposition to such research.''

An ethical debate on cloning has been brewing ever since Dolly the sheep was produced in 1997. Since then, attempts have been made at cloning other animals including mice, dogs, monkeys, pigs and even some endangered species.

An international group of fertility experts, led by Italian obstetrician Severino Antinori, is planning to start work on what they hope will be the first cloned human baby in October, despite an outcry from the Vatican that the venture is unethical and immoral.

The Royal Society will host a meeting in London on stem cell research on Thursday and Friday.

• Executive Summary on Cloning
• Roslin Institute: Information
• Clonaid
• Human Cloning Foundation
• The Royal Society

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