UN Panel Targets US Drive for Broad Cloning Ban
By Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS November 6, 2003 (Reuters) - A U.N. committee was poised on Thursday to derail for two years a US-led drive for a broad global ban on all forms of human cloning, including medical research on stem cells, diplomats said.
A motion to defer drafting of the treaty until 2005, to be put forward by Iran on behalf of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, appeared to be gathering steam in the U.N. General Assembly's legal committee, diplomats on both sides of the battle said.
A defeat would be a setback for Washington, U.S. anti-abortion groups and many heavily Catholic nations, and a victory for countries active in the medical and pharmaceutical fields and scientists who see promise in stem cell research.
"There's a good chance this motion will be adopted, although it is not a sure thing," said one envoy, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The matter has been pending in the 191-nation assembly since 2001, when France and Germany asked the United Nations to quickly draft a treaty banning human cloning.
The United States promptly jumped in to rule out a treaty that failed to ban "therapeutic" or "experimental" cloning, in which human cells are cloned for medical research aims, as well as the cloning of a human being.
Two years later, the U.N. body remains deeply divided on the issue, and not a word has been put on paper.
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