Monday February 18, 2002
Lee Elliot Major
The UK could witness a "brain gain" from across the Atlantic, as top biological scientists come to the UK to exploit the country's liberal laws on human cloning and stem-cell research, a leading US scientist has said.
Speaking at the beginning of this week's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, Professor Peter Raven, the director of the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St Louis and the new president of the AAAS , said the UK could become a highly desirable destination for US biological researchers, who face increasing restrictions on their work in their own country.
The US government has outlawed all forms of human cloning, even if it is for medical research purposes. In the UK, however, there is only a ban on reproductive cloning - using a cloned embryo to create a living human being - but not therapeutic cloning, where a patient's own genetic material is used to create an embryo as a source of stem cells.
Professor Raven said it was unfortunate that President George W Bush had not also distinguished between the two types of cloning. "If the present position holds out, it's likely that some people will want to emigrate from the United States to get into the places where they can do the kind of research that does hold such promise for human health and for scientific advance," he said.
The UK would be an obvious alternative
for many US researchers. Some leading researchers have already made the
move. Last year the biologist Roger Pedersen quit his post at the University
of California in San Francisco to set up a new laboratory at Cambridge
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002