Science in Society Archive

I-SIS Submit Evidence to House of Lords on Stem Cells

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Director of I-SIS submitted the following to the House of Lords Select Committee, stating our position on stem cells research, human cloning and germline modifcation.

"The Institute of Science in Society is a not-for-profit organisation promoting social responsibility and sustainable, ecological approaches in science.

Our position on the related issues of stem cells research, human cloning and germline modification is presented below.

1. We reject any form of reproductive human cloning or human germline modification on grounds that they are,

  • Contrary to universally held principles of human ethics
  • Harmful to the social and moral fabric of civil society
  • Misguided by the flawed science of genetic determinism
  • Based on flawed technologies that inflict unacceptable dangers on individuals and the human species.

2. We reject 'therapeutic' human cloning because it involves the deliberate creation of human embryos for the sole purpose of providing embryonic stem cells, the embryos being sacrificed in the process. This deliberate creation and destruction of human life makes it even more objectionable, in moral terms, than reproductive human cloning. It, too, is misguided by flawed and incomplete scientific knowledge and inflicts unacceptable dangers through flawed technologies.

3. We reject human embryonic stem cell research because embryonic stem cells are already known to be associated with many problems including malignant transformation. The recent disaster involving five Parkinson's patients receiving fetal cell transplants should serve as a grave warning of the dangers inherent to the technology (The Guardian March 13, 2001). Furthermore, adult stem cells are showing much greater promise in replacement therapy, and there is thus no need at all for embryonic stem cells for therapeutic purposes.

4. We oppose patents associated with human cell lines and genes, and call for publicly-funded research to focus on therapeutic methods that do not involve patented procedures cell lines or genes.

Our detailed arguments are contained in the following articles enclosed: