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Issue No: 179
February 28, 2005

This week's issue:
Human Rights Analysis
Law Opinion
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Star Law Analysis
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Law update

UN calls for clone ban

The United Nations has called on countries to ban all forms of human cloning "incompatible with human dignity." The American religious right claims victory, b}t others say the declaration is the result of political manoeuvring influenced by pressure from the United States.

The politicization of science policy in the United States has become a contentious issue in the past several years, with groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists criticizing the Bush administration for favoring political interests over scientific results. Now, that trend seems to be making international inroads.

Nations including Singapore, South Korea, Belgium and the United Kingdom blasted the declaration by the divided U.N. committee, calling it political posturing.

Organizers of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science devoted nine hours of seminars plus a press conference to what they say is increasing influence of political interests on sciencm policy. Politics in America, they say, have inappropriately influenced not only stem cell research and cloning science, but also reports on climate change, endangered species policies, fisheries energy and many others.

"In the scientific communities in other countries we are ridiculed," said Kurt Gottfried, chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, in an interview. "It has certainly lowered our prestige across the world."

U.S. delegates to the United Nations supported a treaty to ban all cloning starting in 2002. After nearly two years of negotiations, the U.N. shelved attempts to agree on a treaty and instead delegates opposed to cloning pushed for a non-binding declaration as a compromise.

The United States is becoming notorious in the eyes of other countries, Gottfried said, as a nation that has allowed ideology to become a premise for science. That perception is sure to have harmful repercussions on the American science community, he said. Scientists are already leaving |he country and graduate students are less uninterested in studying in the United States, he said. When government agencies allow special interests to overshadow science in policy making, the credibility and influence of the agencies themselves are undermined, Gottfried said during a seminar.

"The real danger is that these agencies could be harmed in the long run," he said. "This is an oversight issue and Congress should really be handling it."

Source: Wirel News


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