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Sunday, 30 July, 2000, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Body parts cloning 'to go ahead'
Cloning could produce perfect-match tissue for transplant
The government is to give the go-ahead to growing "spare body parts", from human embryos, it has been reported.

Ministers are said to be preparing to make cloning of tissue from embryos legal for medical purposes, now that a report into the ethical and scientific implications of the issue has been completed.

We are fundamentally opposed to any such development

Catholic Church
Initially scientists would only be allowed to use cloning techniques for research but it is thought that eventually, cells taken from embryos could be used to grow new organs or tissue including brain cells and skin.

The government is due to release its decision on the controversial issue in September, but The Observer newspaper reported that ministers will allow cloning under strict guidelines.

Ethical concerns

Religious groups and "pro-family" organisations are among those who regularly raise concerns about the ethics of cloning tissue from embryos.

"We are fundamentally opposed to any such development" said Tom Horwood, spokesman for the Catholic Church.

"A human embryo is a human life. It is creating a human life for the purposes of cloning."

But Science Minister Lord Sainsbury, said the research had "important benefits... which outweigh any other considerations one might have."

In May this year, the government received a report from the Chief Medical Officer Professor Liam Donaldson.

Prof Donaldson and an expert group of scientists and geneticists were asked to look into proposals to carry out research on cells which have been removed from a young embryo.

'Tissue bank'

Cloning could lead to people having a 'tissue bank' which could be used to help them overcome illnesses such as diabetes or lung disease.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "If someone has damaged tissue in their liver, you may be able to develop some cells into new liver tissue which you could transplant to replace the damaged tissue.

"The government will be publishing the report and its response in two weeks time. Obviously that is when we will make the government's view known."

The report is thought to back cloning but with certain ethical safeguards.

Scientists will not be allowed to use cells taken from aborted foetuses and the cloning of humans will remain banned, according to The Observer.

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