House Cloning Legislation May Stall New Medical Research

Washington, D.C. (February 27, 2003) - Michael Werner, vice president for bioethics at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), today issued the following statement on the House of Representatives' passage of H.R. 534, The Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2003:

"BIO opposes reproductive cloning because it is unethical and dangerous, but this bill amounts to overkill, with potentially serious consequences for medical research. It would criminalize therapeutic research using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), as well as the importation of any products developed abroad using the technology. If this draconian legislation becomes law, the anti-importation provisions would deny American patients the benefits of SCNT-based regenerative medicines developed abroad.

"The debate over anti-cloning legislation now moves to the Senate, where the more limited Human Cloning Ban and Stem Cell Research Protection Act of 2003 (S. 303) has been introduced as an alternative to a sweeping ban of this promising technology. S. 303, sponsored by Senators Feinstein, Specter, Kennedy, Harkin and Miller, would protect vital therapeutic research while banning reproductive cloning."

"Responsible scientists hope to use SCNT to develop new stem cell lines for the study of genetic diseases; to increase the genetic diversity of available stem lines; and 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. Patients and their families are counting on our nation's top scientists to pursue these potential treatments."

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.