Agency to oversee genetic engineering proposed

Max More (
Thu, 09 Jul 1998 08:48:29 -0700

Agency to oversee genetic engineering proposed

Copyright 1998
Copyright 1998 Reuters News Service

BOSTON (July 8, 1998 8:39 p.m. EDT - An ethicist has
called for a U.S. government agency to oversee human experimentation involving genetic engineering as the debate over human cloning raged in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

Boston University's George Annas, a physician, argued in an opinion column that
human experiments involving clones, embryos, genetic engineering and organ transplants from animals should not be allowed without such an agency's approval.

"Any such national regulatory agency must be composed almost exclusively of
nonresearchers and nonphysicians so it can reflect public values," Annas said.
The agency must be convinced that the research does not threaten individuals or
"call deeply held social values into question. This shift in the burden of
proof is critical if society is to have an influence over science," Annas said.

But University of Texas School of Law Professor John Robertson countered that cloning may offer important options to infertile couples or obtaining tissue or
organs for transplants.

Robertson wrote that the permanent ban on all cloning being considered by Congress "is also unjustified."

"Rather than seek to prohibit all uses of human cloning, we should focus our
attention on ensuring that cloning is done well," Robertson said.

The debate over cloning continues around the world.

A measure to prohibit human cloning was making its way through the Israel's Knesset (Parliament).

And in Japan, scientists at the Ishikawa Prefectural Livestock Research Center reported they succeeded in producing two calves which are exactly similar to adult cows.
The cow that gave birth Sunday to the cloned twin calves died several days later.

The twin calves were born exactly two years after Dolly, the British sheep that
made history by becoming the first clone of an adult animal.

Last month, the company that helped bring Dolly into the world was granted the license for use of the cloning technology pioneered by Edinburgh's Roslin Institute.

PPL Therapeutics, in conjunction with the Roslin Institute, produced Dolly and Polly, the first cloned transgenic sheep.