Human Genetics Alert
For immediate release 16th November 2000
CAHGE welcomes report of European Ethics Advisers
The Campaign Against Human Genetic Engineering (CAHGE; 1) has welcomed the report of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies on human stem cell research(2). The Group, which advises the European Commission argues for a precautionary approach to the ethical risks of using embryonic stem cells. It states that 'the creation of embryos by somatic nuclear transfer for research on stem cell therapy would be premature, since there is a wide field of research to be carried out with alternative sources of human stem cells (from spare embryos, foetal tissues and adult stem cells). The report argues further that the 'remote therapeutic perspectives must be balanced against the.... risks of trivialising the use of embryos... and increasing the possibility of their instrumentalisation'.
CAHGE has sent its own briefing (attached) to MPs today. In the briefing CAHGE makes very similar points about the unacknowledged difficulties with embryonic stem cell research. It notes that creating embryos purely as a source of biological raw material will undoubtedly degrade their moral status and is incompatible with the principle of respect for embryos that underpins the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.
Dr David King, coordinator of CAHGE, said: "We are glad to see that the senior European ethics advisory body supports the arguments that we have been making. You do not have to be a 'pro-lifer' to be very concerned about what scientists are proposing."
Notes for editors
1. The Campaign Against Human Genetic Engineering is a watchdog group focusing on issues related to human genetics and related technologies. CAHGE is not opposed to genetics research in principle, but is absolutely opposed to human cloning and germ line genetic engineering.
2. The European report can be found at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/secretariat_general/sgc/ethics/en/opinions.htm