Scottish bioethics council calls for embryo research moratorium</b>

The Scottish Council on Human Bioethics has called for a moratorium on all research on human embryos in the UK because laws regulating the field are hopelessly out of date. The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, it says, grants licences for procedures which would outrage the public if they understood what was happening. The world-famous Roslin Institute in Midlothian which cloned Dolly the sheep, for instance, is creating embryos from human eggs without sperm, a process called parthenogenesis.

"Out of respect for democratic values and the view of the general public, a moratorium should be enforced on parthenogenesis and other possible procedures until the HFEA has adequately consulted with wider society," says the SCHB in report to the British Parliament.

The proposal was dismissed by biotechnologist Professor Wayne Davies, of Glasgow University. "I don't think people would be so keen on a moratorium if a member of their family were at risk of developing Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, or… click here to read whole article and make comments


by Michael Cook
Australian Doctor, 15 June 2004   

IN BRIEF: Zavos again click here to read whole article and make comments

Australian euthanasia activist promotes suicide pill in US</b>

Director Janine Hosking working on her documentary of the death of Lisette Nigot Australian assisted suicide activist Dr Philip Nitschke is spruiking his "peaceful pill" in the US while he attends the launch of a documentary about his involvement in the suicide of a 79-year- old Perth woman. He will tell several right-to-die groups in Washington DC that his pill can easily be made from household ingredients. "If you drink it you will go to sleep and you will die," he explains.

The documentary, Mademoiselle and the Doctor, directed by Janine Hosking, is being shown at a Washington film festival. It examines the relationship between Dr Nitschke and Lisette Nigot, a retired academic who wanted to die before she turned 80, even though she was healthy. Because it depicts euthanasia as a basic right for everyone, not just those who are terminally ill and in great pain, Dr Nitschke acknowledges that it changes the… click here to read whole article and make comments

UK’s first legal human clones on the way</b>

Dr Miodrag Stojkovic Amidst bitter controversy, the UK's fertility medicine watchdog is preparing to approve the nation's first human clones. A Serbian scientist at Newcastle University who left Munich because of Germany's ban on embryonic stem cell research has lodged an application with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to clone embryos for diabetes research. In the course of the experiment, Dr Miodrag Stojkovic (pictured, right) will create embryos using leftover eggs from IVF treatment and then destroy them for their stem cells.

When news of the proposed experiment broke, arguments for and against research cloning surfaced once again. One of the scientists involved, Professor Alison Murdoch, explained: "We are not trying to clone a baby... These embryos have no more moral status than blood taken from a patient." And Dr Stojkovic asked, "Why put something in the rubbish bin when it can be used in such a valuable way?"

The lobby group Human… click here to read whole article and make comments

Steep fee rises mooted for embryo research in UK</b>

The fee for a government licence to conduct research on embryos in the UK could soar from ?200 to ?6,000 because of Treasury cost-recovery rules. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority says that "researchers must bear a more realistic licence fee to meet the costs of regulating human embryo research". A ?6,000 flat fee is one of three options -- but all of them involve steep increases.

The move provoked strident protests from scientists who insisted that the additional costs would destroy research in areas where the UK is currently strong. Professor Neil McClure, of Queens University Belfast, told a parliamentary committee that the HFEA should not meddle in "basic projects" like IVF and stem cell research, unlike "controversial work on cloning or genetic modification, where the embryo is altered".

Another scientist, Dr Simon Festing, of the Association of Medical Research Charities, said that high fees and bureaucracy had already scuppered some research on animals. Fee increases for working with… click here to read whole article and make comments

Arab states may ban both types of cloning</b>

Legal experts from the Arab League have hammered out a consensus on cloning which would lead to laws banning both reproductive and research cloning. At the moment there is a legal vacuum in the Arab world on cloning. An Arab treaty will probably be approved before the UN re-opens its discussion of a global treaty on cloning next year -- and could influence its outcome.

Several Muslim groups oppose cloning. "The international community should stand up to the heresy of... human cloning which... violates divine laws," says Muslim World League secretary-general Abdullah bin Adbul Mohsen Al-Turki. Muslim doctors have also spoken out against research cloning. Dr Ali Khalifa, professor of Medicine at Cairo's Ain Shams University, says that cloning endangers "the human personality, human dignity and honour, and human family and society". Creating and killing human embryos for their stem cells is "murder in the name of scientific advancement," he says. click here to read whole article and make comments

Democrats’ presidential hopeful backs embryo stem cell research</b>

Senator John Kerry, the Democrats' all-but-endorsed candidate for president, says that he would overturn George W. Bush's ban on expanding federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells. Recalling that heart transplants had once been ethically contentious, Senator Kerry said, "the medical discoveries that come form stem cells are crucial next steps in humanity's uphill climb... Part of this nation's greatness lies in the fact that we have led the world in great medical discoveries, with our breakthroughs and our beliefs going hand in hand." However, despite pressure from Congress, various lobby groups and former first lady Nancy Reagan, President Bush dug his heels in this week on the issue of stem cells. "The president doesn't believe we should be creating life for the sole purpose of destroying life," said the White House spokesman. click here to read whole article and make comments

Before the Holocaust, some Israeli doctors supported eugenics</b>

Early Zionist thinker Max Nordau Research by an Israeli PhD student has exposed the eugenic plans of a number of Jewish doctors and Zionist thinkers before World War II. According to Dr Sachlav Stoler-Liss of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, some of Israel's founding fathers proposed castrating the mentally ill, sterilising the poor, limiting the size of "families of Eastern origin" and "preventing... lives that are lacking in purpose".

"Eugenics is considered to be something that only happened in Germany," says Dr Stoler-Liss. "Germany was indeed the most murderous manifestation of eugenics, but in fact it was a movement that attracted many followers.... in both Germany and in Israel a link was made between eugenics, health and nationalism."

One of the leading Zionist thinkers was Dr Max Nordau, whose bizarre theories about "degenerate art" were also taken up by the Nazis. He called for a "Judaism of muscle" to replace "the Jew of… click here to read whole article and make comments

It’s payback time for lawyers, says US doctor</b>

A doctor fed up with medical liability cases created a public relations nightmare for his colleagues in the American Medical Association when he proposed that doctors should be able to ethically deny medical treatment to trial lawyers and their spouses.

Dr J. Chris Hawk II, a surgeon from South Carolina, said that his proposal was just a "wake-up call" and withdrew it after it had circulated for two weeks. But other AMA members were outraged. Orthopaedic surgeon Dr John Cletcher said that the first rule of medicine was "do no harm" -- and, he complained, "this resolution has done a great deal of harm." Another doctor from Pennsylvania said that lobbyists for lawyers were now claiming that doctors were planning medical blackmail. Two Pennsylvania legislators had condemned the resolution.

But lawyers are not the only professionals under the gun of doctors. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, more and more doctors are suing each other over malpractice testimony. Some doctors claim… click here to read whole article and make comments

Animal stem cell tests could lead to bonanza</b>

Tests for liver damage using animal stem cells from animals could be worth "several hundred million pounds", says a Scottish biotech company. CXR Biosciences, of Dundee, has teamed up with Edinburgh's Roslin Institute and the US company Geron to create tests which would make it unnecessary to carry out liver damage tests on animals. The liver is responsible for about 60%of all drug test problems. click here to read whole article and make comments

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