October 30, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 34  

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Embryo research yes, human cloning no

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff

Recent legislation, Bill C-13, passed in the House of Commons, will allow embryonic research and outlaw human cloning.

The bill will allow human embryos to be used in medical research into stem cells, create a clinic to oversee fertility clinics, ban commercial sale of embryos and not reimburse surrogate mothers.

"Bill C-13 protects women who are going through assisted reproduction," said Jeff Nisker, professor at Western's faculty of medicine and dentistry and co-chair of Health Canada's advisory committee on reproduction and genetic technology. "I really hope it'll go speedily through the Senate."

Nisker pointed out the committee worked for seven years to find a Canadian solution that balances scientific interests, human dignity and individual interests. "It's a compromise of what everyone wanted," he added.

"I believe in using stem cell research - my view is that [it] should be used as long as something good can come out of it," said Greg Kelly, an associate biology professor at Western, adding he feels human cloning is wrong.

According to Kelly, stem cell research could lead to new developments of treatments for Parkinson's disease or even spinal cord injuries. "I don't think you can find people who wouldn't support this," he said.

The bill will also give researchers a valuable opportunity to collaborate, Kelly noted, adding the research may not provide all the answers, but will certainly provide some.

"Some people see it as a Frankenstein syndrome," Kelly noted, citing concerns many could have about eugenics and the creation of superior human beings.

"I can see companies wanting to get into it - I would rather see government supervision," Kelly stated, noting government supervision will ensure there is no misuse of the technology and the amount of labs producing stem cells will be limited.

"The main thing is that as a physician you're going to want to improve quality of life - any technology that would improve quality of life could only be beneficial," said second-year medical student Augustine Agee.



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