Media Release: Wednesday, 21 November, 2007

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has renewed its calls for Australia’s controversial embryonic cloning laws to be reviewed in the light of new scientific research, which experts say could make cloning irrelevant.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said that two papers published this week, one by Yamanaka in the journal Cell and one by Thomson in the journal Science, show that the ordinary skin cell of a human can be transformed into the equivalent of an embryonic stem cell without ever creating or destroying an embryo.

“Even the scientist who created ‘Dolly the Sheep’, Professor Ian Wilmut, has chosen to abandon embryonic cloning in favour of this better scientific method so why can’t Australia do the same?” Mr Wallace said.

“I urge whichever party forms Government after Saturday’s election to review the cloning laws and to decide to pursue ethical research instead of research which involves the creation and destruction of human life.”

Mr Wallace said the scientific breakthroughs by Japanese and US researchers are good news for those who value human life and are opposed to embryonic cloning. He said that there have also been other 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 added that more than 70 treatments have been developed using ethical adult stem cells, while unethical embryonic cloning research was still unproven.

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan