Relaymedia

Controversy Surrounding Stem Cell Research Raises Moral Question

A top South Korean scientist, made famous from a breakthrough study involving embryonic stem cell research, admits errors while raising the ethical question.
( [email protected] ) Dec 17, 2005 04:09 PM EST

A top South Korean scientist, made famous from a breakthrough study involving embryonic stem cell research, admits errors while raising the ethical question on the destruction of human embryos.

On Friday, Professor Woo Suk Hwang of Seoul National University asked an American scientific journal to retract his research paper over "mistakes in the photography."


In the research paper, Hwang and his team said they had created 11 stem cell lines from cloned embryos to match a specific donor, which is seen as a major breakthrough by scientists who hope to find a cure for diseases.

With the release of his statement, some scientists are questioning the report’s accuracy. A day before Hwang's announcement, an allegation was made by Dr. Roh Sung-il, a former co-worker who co-authored Hwang's study, saying that Hwang falsified data in the report.

Despite this Hwang said, "What I can clearly say is that we have produced patient-specific stem cells and we have the technology to do so," adding that in 10 days he would be able to prove the accuracy of his research.

Meanwhile, the Korean Catholic Church unflinchingly opposed Hwang's research, with the guidance of the Vatican, but said they support research done on adult stem cells rather than embryonic stem cells.

According to the Korea Times, Hwang attempted to gain the support of the Korean Catholic church by meeting Rev. Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, the archbishop of Seoul back in June. However, the church did not change their stance, but recently demanded that the government stop financial support for Hwang's research.

Amid the controversies, the ethical question brought forward by Christians and pro-life advocates is that they believe that stem cell research is unethical since it involves the destruction of human embryos that they see as equivalent to a human life.