The South Korean government announced the passing of a new bill banning the cloning of human cells starting next year. The bill that was finalized on September 24, 2002, will restrict the cloning of human cells as well as somatic cells. The Life Ethics and Safety Measures bill will also prohibit embryonic stem cell research, artificial hybrid fertilization between human beings and animals, and genetic treatment of fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses. Those convicted of violating the bill can face up to 10 years in prison.
Many scientists and researchers are opposed to the bill believing that the new regulation will only slow South Korea’s progress in scientific research. Stem cell research is believed to hold the answers to cures for diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. In response to the outcry by many scientific experts, the Korean Health Ministry stated that the bill would be reviewed in three years time to take into account any scientific and technological developments and changes.
Clonaid, a U.S. cloning company headquartered in Nevada and founded in 1997, plans to continue its research regardless of the new regulations. The company has already implanted a cloned embryo in a South Korean woman. The woman is expected to give birth early next year. Clonaid’s branch office in Korea claims it will continue with research despite government warnings.