Bid to outlaw human cloning
BERLIN, Germany -- France and Germany are attempting to persuade the United Nations to adopt an anti-human cloning treaty.
The two nations first launched a campaign to develop a worldwide legal ban on human cloning in June but now want the topic included at a U.N General Assembly meeting next month.
Their initiative was given added impetus on Tuesday when scientists said they would begin cloning experiments in November.
In a letter delivered to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Germany and France requested the general assembly meeting has cloning on the agenda, the German Foreign Ministry said.
"Germany and France are at the same time starting intensive diplomatic efforts to win support for this initiative worldwide," the ministry said in a statement.
It added that discussions with their partners in the 15-nation European Union have already begun.
In Washington on Tuesday, researchers told a meeting of scientists they would try to clone human beings despite ethical objections and arguments that it is medically risky. Italian Professor Severino Antinori and Panos Zavos, a U.S infertility expert based in Kentucky, said they intended to use 200 infertile volunteer couples in their experiments.
But the plan has sparked a storm of protest in both the scientific community and in governments and outrage from the Roman Catholic Church.
"Practice, it is said, makes perfect. But is it ethical to practice? And I absolutely think it is not, in the human context," said Alan Colman, a researcher for Scotland's PPL Therapeutics.
Many nations have either announced bans on cloning research or have legislation pending.
The United States House of Representatives voted to ban all human cloning last week, although the bill still has to by passed by senators. Similar legislations is before the Japanese parliament.
In the UK cloning has been outlawed and in Italy there is no specific law but Italian medical authorities have threatened to stop Antinori practising medicine in the country.
However there are many other countries where Antinor and Zavos could operate and the Italian has even said he may work on a boat moored in international waters to get round national laws.
The Catholic Church condemns artificial procreation outright and last August Pope John Paul II condemned the vision of human embryo cloning and commercial organ transplants as "morally unacceptable."
Antinori says that his team's work will help childless couples and adds the clones will be "unique individuals" rather than photocopies.
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