UN Anti-Cloning Treaty Seen Heading for Collapse
UNITED NATIONS - A U.N. drive for a global ban on human cloning appeared headed for collapse last week after drafters deadlocked over whether to push for the total ban backed by the United States or a partial ban exempting scientific research on stem cells.
The deadlock surfaced during a weeklong meeting of a U.N. General Assembly working group convened to lay the groundwork for the treaty to be drafted.
During the week, governments divided into two blocs and acknowledged their differences probably could not be resolved, diplomats told Reuters. A final decision on the next steps will be up to the General Assembly\'s legal committee, which has set no date for a ruling on the matter.
A group of some 40 nations, led by Costa Rica and the United States and assembled with the help of U.S.-based anti-abortion groups, insisted on a treaty banning both the cloning of humans and \"therapeutic\" or \"experimental\" cloning, in which human embryos are cloned for medical research aims.
A rival group of 14 governments, most of them European but also including Japan, Brazil and South Africa, argued the top priority should be to quickly ban the cloning of humans, leaving it up to individual governments to decide whether - and if so, how - to regulate therapeutic cloning.
\"Therapeutic cloning is one of the technologies that we believe has enormous promise,\" said Elizabeth Woodson of Britain\'s Department of Health. \"We are looking to a future where cellular research will lead to new treatments for a range of serious diseases which affect many millions of people and which are currently without a cure.\"
But Ann Corkery, representing the United States, argued a treaty allowing experimental cloning \"would essentially authorize the creation of a human embryo for the purpose of killing it to extract stem cells, thus elevating the value of research and experimentation above that of a human life.\"
The General Assembly first voted to draft a treaty against human cloning two years ago, at the urging of France and Germany. Those two countries had now backed away from the campaign in light of the divisions, diplomats said.
Story by Irwin Arieff
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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