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Defending life from the moment of conception

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News, 10 May 2002

10 May 2002

10 May 2002 The fertility expert who claims to have implanted cloned embryos in three women has warned that, when born, the children could be stigmatised by society. Professor Severino Antinori of Rome told a news conference: "... in the countries where these babies will be born, if the climate of persecution does not change ... at the first birth everyone will say 'this is a monster'." The professor says that some 40 people in 18 countries are involved in his project and that the most advanced of the three pregnancies is in its 10th week. [Reuters, 8 May ] Scientists in New Zealand want to perform destructive experiments on embryos created as part of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in order to try to make IVF more reliable. The Christchurch Fertility Centre plans to ask an ethics committee to allow the research on the behaviour of genes during egg development, fertilisation and embryo growth. A spokesman for the centre pointed out that implantation of IVF embryos frequently failed. [Cybercast, 9 May ] Even if research on embryos could make IVF less risky, such work would be unethical because it would involve the wilful destruction of human life. The organisation which regulates the British food industry has called for more research before it decides whether to recommend that folic acid is added to flour in the hope of preventing spina bifida and other developmental anomalies in the unborn. The Food Standards Agency is concerned that the practice could conceal a vitamin B12 deficiency in the elderly. The agency is to consider what has been happening in Chile where the addition of folic acid to flour has been compulsory since 2000. Folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects if taken very early in pregnancy. [BBC, 9 May ]

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