Report: Senate in No Rush to Ban Cloning

November 28, 2001 (AP) - Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., has no plans to push for legislation banning human cloning, despite the view of some lawmakers that a Federal law is needed soon to stop fast-moving research, according to the Associated Press. "A lot of senators want time to think through all the medical and scientific issues involved," Daschle spokesman Doug Hattaway said yesterday.

The House of Representatives passed a ban on human cloning in July; a similar measure was raised in the Senate this month, "but a showdown was avoided after leaders promised extensive hearings next Spring," the AP reported.

The issue of human cloning took on added urgency with the weekend announcement by a Massachusetts company that its scientists had cloned a human embryo for the first time. The company, Advanced Cell Technology, said that "it had no plans to actually create human clones, but that it hopes to develop genetically compatible replacement cells for patients with a range of illnesses," the AP said.

The company's announcement of the cloning of a six-cell embryo triggered sharp criticism from a variety of corners, from lawmakers and President Bush to religious leaders -- including the Vatican -- and abortion opponents.

However, several cloning experts, including a former member of Advanced Cell Technology's ethics board, dismissed the company's claim as "nothing but hype." They added that the company's findings, posted Sunday on two Internet sites, lacked any significant details, including "what cells the company scientists grew from the cloned embryo," the AP reported.