Cloning Research Talking Points: - ÚÑÈí- French
Dr. John Shea, M.D., F.R.C.P. (C)


The Government of Canada’s proposal for legislation governing assisted human reproduction has defined a “human clone” as “an embryo” which, as a result of manipulation of human reproductive material” contains the same nuclear deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence found in the cell of a living or diseased human being, fetus, or embryo. It defined human reproductive material as “a sperm, ovum, or other human cell, human gene or in vitro embryo, and includes any part of them”. It fails to state that the word “clone”, as it applies to human beings, is also defined as a cell or tissue replicated by means of mitosis from any human body cell.

  • Superficially, the proposed legislation would appear to forbid any person from “knowingly” creating a “human clone”. In fact, a person may be allowed to perform the following three procedures, “under the authority of a license” issued by the Minister of Health:
    1. To alter “a sperm, ovum, or other human cell, human gene or in vitro embryo… or any part of them” for the purpose of “research or the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of disease injury or disability”.
    2. To create a chimera for any purpose, including research. A chimera is defined in the proposed legislation as a human being or fetus into which a cell of any non-human life form has been introduced.
    3. To combine any part or any portion of the human genome specified in the regulations with any part of the genome of an animal species specified in the regulations.
  • Even though the proposal would appear to prohibit “human cloning”, under ministerial license, it may be permitted.
  • Under ministerial authority, one might also, for the purpose of “research, or prevention, diagnosis or treatment of disease, injury or disability”, use stem cells from a human embryo.
    1. To produce an embryo by transferring the nucleus of a somatic cell into an ovum.
    2. To produce an embryo by splitting a blastocyst.
    3. To use stem cells from a human embryo (which may kill the embryo) in order to clone other embryos for the facilitation of reproduction.
    4. To duplicate or copy human DNA by means of transferring it into a sperm, ovum or embryo. These genetic changes can then be “copied” by normal sexual reproduction through subsequent generations.
    5. To insert DNA from the cytoplasm of another cell from any kind of animal into the cytoplasm of a human ovum, which is then fertilized and the DNA handed on to later generations.
    6. To perform parthenogenesis, in which the ovum develops into a new individual without fertilization.
    7. To perform eugenic, genetic “enhancement”, by the insertion of superior genes, under the category of “research”.
  • A national survey, conducted in April 2001, by Health Canada, found that most Canadians want the federal government to allow “human cloning”. Do the public and the members of parliament understand the broad spectrum of activities that the legislation actually proposes to legalize?
  • The proposed legislation, in defining the words “human cloning”, make a distinction between the words, “embryo”, “fetus” and “human being”. This distinction infers that the embryo and the fetus are not human beings. This inference is a scientific fiction.

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