Media Release: Monday, 19 November, 2007

Australian governments should review their controversial cloning laws in the light of a decision by the scientist who created ‘Dolly the sheep’ to abandon human embryonic cloning.

That’s the opinion of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) which today said this development highlights yet again why ethical stem cell research should be pursued, instead of research which involves the creation and destruction of human life.

“If Professor Ian Wilmut, who is the pioneer of cloning and who has been given the UK licence to clone human embryos, has walked away from this in favour of a better scientific method then surely our Federal and State Governments should be reexamining this issue,” ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said today. “Why allow research with such strong ethical problems when even its pioneer has found a better way?

“The better way he refers to are the findings by Yamanaka and Thomson to be published in a major journal this week that the ordinary skin cell of a human can be transformed very simply into the equivalent of an embryonic stem cell without ever creating or destroying an embryo.

“It is very disappointing that the Federal, Victorian, NSW, Queensland and Tasmanian parliaments have prematurely passed embryonic cloning legislation but they should now take another look at this issue. We hope this scientific development will also lead to the South Australian and West Australian parliaments rejecting the human cloning legislation they are currently considering.”

Mr Wallace said that there have been other significant scientific developments which have underscored why Australia should not have hastened down the path of embryonic cloning.

In July ES Cell International, a major Sinagaporean-Australian company which was aiming to be the world leader in embryonic stem cell technology, abandoned its research into heart and diabetes treatments with embryo stem cells because of loss of investor confidence. At the same time adult stem cell treatments for both diabetes and heart disease in humans were published in major journals.

Mr Wallace encouraged investment in the proven and ethical field of adult stem cells where more than 70 treatments have been developed, while unethical embryonic cloning research was still unproven.

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan