More MS news articles for Nov 2001

Canada says it will eventually ban human cloning

OTTAWA, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Jean Chretien declared Canada's opposition to human cloning on Monday and said Parliament would eventually ban it.

But Chretien's Liberal government rejected an opposition request to fast-track the proposed ban in light of news that a US company, Advanced Cell Technology, had cloned a human embryo to provide a source of stem cells. Health Minister Allan Rock submitted wide-ranging draft legislation in May to the House of Commons' health committee, which would ban human cloning and regulate assisted reproduction.

The committee is to present a report next month, one month earlier than originally planned, but the government will then take time to use it to craft final legislation, which would still have to wend its way through both houses of Parliament.

"This bill clearly indicates that the government, and I hope the House, is opposed to this practice," Chretien said of human cloning.

Stockwell Day, leader of the largest opposition party, the Canadian Alliance, said it was crucial to act now.

"Otherwise people will move here to Canada from other jurisdictions that are going ahead and banning it," he told reporters.

"Creating a new human being, creating life for the purpose of destroying it just to harvest its cells is simply and absolutely wrong," he earlier told Parliament.

Chretien added his agreement to Day's statement, and the draft legislation indeed would ban the creation of embryos--whether through cloning on in vitro fertilization--solely for research.

It would, however, allow stem cell research on human embryos that were not created solely for that purpose.

The Alliance's Grant Hill, a medical doctor, asked if the government would elevate the use of adult stem cells over embryonic stem cells, since the adult cells avoid the controversy over destruction of embryos.

"Adult cells are much preferable," Hill said.

Rock declined to agree to push adult stem cells, and urged Hill to save his speeches for the committee.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Limited