Washington, D.C. (February 5, 2003) - Michael Werner, vice president for bioethics at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), today issued the following statement on the introduction of the Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Research Protection Act of 2003:
"BIO congratulates Senators Specter, Feinstein, Hatch, Kennedy, and Harkin as they introduce legislation to prohibit reproductive cloning while allowing important medical research to continue. Based on our preliminary review, this legislation deserves strong support.
"Virtually all Americans agree that experiments using cloning technology for human reproductive purposes are both morally repugnant and dangerous.
"It took scientists more than 270 attempts to create the ovine breakthrough known as Dolly. To apply those odds to humans would be reprehensible - and those so-called scientists who claim they can and will are frankly an insult to responsible medicalresearch. Congress must take steps to prohibit reproductive cloning.
"But there's a big difference between reproductive cloning and therapeutic research using the same core technology of somatic cell nuclear transplant (SCNT). Responsible scientists hope to use SCNT to develop new ways of deriving genetically matched embryonic stem cells that can be used to create cell and tissue transplants to treat diseases and injuries afflicting upwards of 100 million Americans - such as diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, autoimmune diseases and certain cancers. Patients and their families are counting on our nation's top scientists to pursue these potential treatments.
"Both the National Institutes of Health and the National Academy of Sciences have said cloning technology could help unleash the full potential of stem cell research. Moreover, the nation's leading scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, have endorsed therapeutic research using SCNT, as have the 40 Nobel Laureates who signed a letter of support in April 2002.
"BIO supports the efforts of Senators Specter, Feinstein, Hatch, Kennedy and Harkin because their legislation recognizes the crucial distinction between therapeutic research and reproductive cloning. Their bill is a thoughtful piece of legislation that strikes a careful balance between banning an unsafe and unethical application of technology while allowing critical scientific research to continue."
BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.