Mid Term Elections Crucial in Determining Fate of Onshore Cloning Research

Nov 15, 2002 03:00 AM EST

WASHINGTON D.C. –- Results of last week's elections reflect a possible drive towards phasing out therapeutic and reproductive cloning in US's laboratories. Supporters believe that all human cloning could be outlawed as early as next year, driving all research offshore.

Upon republican gains in the mid-term elections, Senator Sam Brownback plans to push through legislation completely banning cloning early next year.

"Obviously, the elections favor those who oppose human cloning, and we plan action early next year," said a spokesman for Mr Brownback.

A similar legislation introduced by George W. Bush last year had passed by the House of Representatives but had stalled in the Senate. Supporters of the ban believe the recent election of three pro-ban senators could tip the balance.

If the legislation passes, all US medical research in the field of cloning, that is currently restricted to university laboratories and a few US companies, would be forced to move offshore. Biotech companies fear that this ban could set a precedent of governmental inference with medial research.

"Bush clearly sees cloning as unfinished business and will move quickly forward with this," said Michael Warner, head of legislative affairs for the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

Michael Manganiello, head of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, a patient rights group that supports cloning research, said: "It is a dangerous moment because a cloning ban is on Bush's short list of legislative objectives. We'll be sitting down with senators as soon as possible to map out a strategy."

Last week, the Bush administration revealed the strength of its feelings on cloning by blocking a United Nations resolution that supported therapeutic cloning. In last week's press conference, Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesmen called the cloning issue a "top priority."

All US legislators are against reproductive cloning, but Congress has been split over the issue. The removal of the Democratic senators Jean Carnahan of Missouri and Max Cleland of Georgia during the mid term elections may play a sufficient role to garner support for the ban.

By Pauline J.
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