UN Cloning Vote: BIO's letter to the Members of the U.N. General Assembly

To the Members of the U.N. General Assembly:

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. Many of our members are involved in the research and development of health-care products, and all of them work with a major goal in mind-improving the human condition. I am writing on behalf of our members to request that the Sixth Committee (Legal) not recommend a treaty banning therapeutic cloning (technically termed "somatic cell nuclear transfer").

There is no dispute that human reproductive cloning should be banned, and BIO has consistently supported such a ban. Human reproductive cloning is unethical as well as dangerous. Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (therapeutic cloning), on the other hand, may provide researchers with the tools to develop cures for some of the world's most devastating illnesses and injuries, such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, ALS, and spinal cord injury.

Using this technology, scientists someday may be able to generate replacement neurons to heal diseases of the brain; replace pancreatic islet cells to cure juvenile diabetes; to repair skin, cartilage and bone for accident victims and the casualties of war; and to make cells for the treatment of liver and heart disease. Although these cells may generate human cells and tissues, they will not, and in fact cannot, be used to create a human being.

The choice now before you is this: either allow scientists to continue their life-saving research to find treatments for the millions of children and adults worldwide who suffer and die everyday, or block a promising medical advancement by banning therapeutic cloning. We urge the Sixth Committee not to turn their back on our hope to cure some of humanity's most devastating afflictions.

/s/

Michael Werner,
Chief of Policy
Biotechnology Industry Organization