Report: Canada to Allow Stem Cell Research

March 4, 2002; Toronto, CANADA ( Reuters) -- "Canadian scientists will be allowed to use human embryos and aborted fetal tissue for medical research on stem cells under new regulations to be released Today," The Globe and Mail reported. The newspaper reported Saturday that the regulations, which strike a balance between the more restrictive rights in the United States and the liberal laws in Britain on stem cells, are being set by the Federal Canadian Institute for Health Research. Under the documents obtained by The Globe, publicly-backed stem-cell research could receive funding from the Institute only if the cells are donated with the consent of the couples involved. Scientists are not permitted to pressure a woman's decision on whether to continue with her pregnancy. Also, "Canadian scientists who rely on public funding are still prohibited from creating or cloning human embryos in their labs solely for research purposes," the newspaper reported. "Since no legislation on reproductive technology currently exists, the rules are the only guidelines governing Canadian scientists in this area," The Globe said.

With the amazing ability to multiply indefinitely and grow into all types of cells that constitute a human body, stem cells are regarded as the keys to regenerative medicine. But the only way to extract the cells for regeneration and research is to destroy the living embryo. This has spawned a heated debate on stem-cell research since it burst into public debate several years ago.