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November 23, 2003 

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Singapore set to pass law banning human cloning

Scientists who try to clone humans in Singapore could be jailed for a decade and fined up to 100,000 Singapore dollars (£34,000) under newly-proposed legislation.

The bill, which is expected to pass into law early next year, would also require researchers to get health ministry approval before beginning research on human stem cells.

The legislation aims to prevent scientists from abusing Singapore's open attitude toward human stem-cell research, which has attracted scientists from all over the world, including Alan Colman, the British researcher who helped to clone Dolly the sheep in 1996.

Scientists have come to Singapore because countries such as the United States have imposed tighter restrictions on human stem-cell research, which requires the destruction of embryos.

Scientists hope that one day, human stem cells, which produce the tissues and organs of the body, will be used to regenerate or replace damaged or destroyed organs and develop treatments for victims of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, diabetes and spinal cord injuries.

The bill indicates that although Singapore's government favours stem-cell research, it opposes human cloning. The move by Singapore comes after a group representing more than 60 scientific bodies across the world called in September for a worldwide ban on human reproductive cloning.

The Inter-Academy Panel on International Issues' proposed ban on cloning would, however, exclude therapeutic cloning, which is the production of early-stage embryos for research into the treating of diseases.

Source: The Scotsman.

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