World Congress

for freedom of scientific research

Stem cells: UN debate restarts. Luca Coscioni Association and Radical Party demand all-clear to therapeutic cloning

10/28/2008

Marco Cappato (MEP, Secretary-General of Luca Coscioni Association LCA) and Marco Perduca (Senator of the Italian Republic, Vice-president of Nonviolent Radical Party) asked to the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee to approve the technique of nuclear transfer – improperly called “therapeutic cloning�?- but above all to let the scientific research free to discover new treatments. The UNESCO International Bioethics Committee – composed of a committee of experts (IBC) and a intergovernmental one, in which 36 countries are represented (IGBC) - will hold a meeting in Paris next October 28-31 in order to discuss about human cloning. These two committees will discuss an article of the UNESCO 1997 Declaration on human genome, stating that the practices which are contrary to human dignity shall not be permitted, in particular “the reproductive cloning of human beings�?. The Declaration is not binding in itself, however the Governments and the international organizations concerned in these issues are invited to identify such practices and to take the measures necessary to ensure that the principles set out in that declaration are respected. In fact, it has been like that, seen that more than 50 countries have been conforming with it since 1997. The LCA and the Nonviolent Radical Party, NGO in “Category One Consultative Status�? with UN, asked to take part in the activities of the Committee as observers with right of speech. In a letter sent to the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee, Cappato and Perduca reminded the several activities organized by LCA and the Radical Party in favor of scientific research: in 2004, the plea against the UN ban of the research on human embryonic stem cells for therapeutic purposes was undersigned by 1,500 scientists, politicians, patients but first of all 77 Nobel laureates; in 2006, a petition calling on the European Parliament to ensure that the Seventh Framework Programme on Research at least confirmed the funding of research projects on stem cells was undersigned by 2,500 people, including 11 Nobel laureates. Cappato and Perduca say: “Unfortunately research on hESCs is still prohibited in the countries of the several “blocks�? which challenge freedom of research and cure at every turn. We do hope that this “new international initiative�? forecasted by UNESCO could represent a unique opportunity to appeal for a removal of obstacles to nuclear transfer�?, but above all “we would be pleased and relieved to record a slight progress towards freedom of research and cure. Or at least slightly less prohibitions�?.

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