SPUC welcomes Bush decision on embryo research with reservations
10 August 2001
SPUC welcomes Bush decision on embryo research—with reservations Westminster, 10 August 2001--The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has welcomed President Bush's rejection of research on human embryos, describing it as a courageous stand, though SPUC has also voiced concerns. John Smeaton, SPUC's national director, said: "The World Medical Association's Declaration of Helsinki (revised 1975) states: 'In research on man, the interests of science and society should never take precedence over considerations related to the well-being of the subject.' Mr Bush's decision conforms to this principle. "The president also announced that he would permit federal funding for research on cell lines derived from embryos who have already been destroyed and this is where we have reservations. "This move will increase the market-value of stem cell lines from embryos who were deliberately destroyed, which is not a good message to send. It could signal to scientists that, if they perform unethical experiments and procedures, they will eventually be rewarded. "Mr Bush seems to assume that embryo research would be performed in an ethical way only in pursuit of ethical ends. However, it is still unclear what ethical restrictions will apply to federally-funded research. "The president will also have to make provision for the possibility that embryonic stem cells could develop into embryos. Scientists have used embryonic mouse cells to grow a complete animal1 and, if this can also be done with people, human embryonic stem cells may need to be treated as embryos. Mr Bush should make provision for a ban on federal funding if this is found to be the case. "Finally, it would be a travesty if federal funds were provided for stem cell research on new embryos whose stem cells were extracted by privately-funded researchers but then handed over for use by government-funded scientists. It is important that the president's statement is studied carefully to ensure that no such loophole exists." * Nagy, A. et al., Derivation of Completely Cell Culture-Derived Mice from Early Passage Embryonic Stem Cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 90:8424-8428, 1993.