INDEPENDENT NEWS

Call For Debate On Germline Engineering

Published: Thu 9 Aug 2001 12:35 AM
Banning human cloning would only address some of the issues concerning human genetic engineering, Green Party MP and Health spokesperson Sue Kedgley said today.
A call for widespread debate into issues such as stem cell research and germline engineering came after a report in today's New Zealand Herald that the first human clone may only be a few weeks away.
A ban on human cloning in New Zealand is proposed in the Human Assisted Reproduction Bill which is currently before the Health Select Committee, but Ms Kedgley said public debate is needed in order to develop legislation relating to these other controversial issues. Germline engineering involves human sperm and eggs being genetically engineered, resulting in the human genetic code being permenantly altered.
"We need to encourage widespread debate about the ethics, risks and legal issues surrounding these controversial topics so we can decide where we are going to draw the line in the sand.
"If we don't act soon we could end up on the slippery slope to a Brave New World where children are treated as a consumer commodities that parents can choose by selecting genes from a catalogue."
Ms Kedgley stressed the risks of human cloning, saying past experiments with animals have been a hit and miss affair, often with disastrous results.
"On average less than two per cent of animal clones make it to term, and most that do have severe abnormalities such as malfunctioning livers and heart problems. Could we tolerate a similar strike rate to produce a human clone?
"Personally, I believe that cloning and human genetic engineering is a technological threshold which humanity should not cross.
"These technologies will change forever what it means to be human."
Ends

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