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United Nations delays action on human cloning ban

WASHINGTON (BP)–The United Nations has delayed action on a human cloning ban.

The U.N.’s legal committee was unable to break an impasse between supporters of a comprehensive ban on cloning and backers of a proposal that would permit the cloning of embryos for research purposes. Research cloning results in the destruction of embryos.

Although Costa Rica, the United States and other supporters of a comprehensive ban on cloning said they had a majority of votes, they said it would not have been possible to defeat a Belgium-led strategy to delay action for a year, the Chicago Tribune reported. Costa Rica had lined up more than 60 co-sponsors for its comprehensive prohibition, while Belgium had about 20 co-sponsors for its measure.

The legal committee agreed to receive a nonbinding resolution from Italy as the basis for negotiations on the issue beginning in February, according to the Tribune.

This marked the third year the U.N. has battled over human cloning without adopting a ban, according to LifeNews.com. The legal committee debated the issue for two days in October but had a deadline of Nov. 19 for action.

“It’s our longstanding position that all human cloning is wrong, and we are proud of our efforts to prevent human cloning,” U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said, according to Reuters. “So the fact that there isn’t any action by the U.N. to endorse cloning is a moderate success.”

Countries that oppose a comprehensive ban do so primarily in order to permit research on stem cells extracted from embryos.

Stem cells are the body’s master cells that can develop into other cells and tissues. They are found not only in human embryos but in adult sources, such as bone marrow, umbilical cord blood and placentas. The procurement of stem cells from an adult source does not harm the donor.

In addition to its destructive character, embryonic stem cell research has experienced multiple failures, including the worsening of Parkinson’s symptoms in one human test group and a tendency to produce tumors in laboratory animals. Adult stem cell research, meanwhile, has already produced more than 40 treatments, including the repair of damaged livers and remedies for heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries.

President Bush has urged the U.N. to pass a total ban. In a September speech to the General Assembly, he urged members to vote for the Costa Rican proposal and thereby endorse a “basic ethical principle: No human life should ever be produced or destroyed for the benefit of another.”

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