19 European nations sign an agreement to prohibit the genetic replication of human beings
Nineteen European nations signed a pact in France on January 12 approving a ban on human cloning. French officials said that the protocol was an annex to the Council of Europe's convention and also the first compulsory juridical instrument banning cloning of humans.
The agreement was signed after the French president Jacques Chirac called for an international ban on human cloning. us president Bill Clinton also called on the Congress to vote a bill banning such experiments in the us for at least five years. The countries which signed the agreement are Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy Latvia, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Norway, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. Significantly, Britain and Germany have not signed the ban.
A leading Russian geneticist, Lev Ernst who is vice-president of the Russian Academy of Agriculture, contradicted his colleagues from other nations a day after the ban was signed. He said that cloning would be acceptable if properly controlled by the State. "A well researched breakthrough must not be banned -- it is impossible to conceal something in science," said Ernst. "What is needed is to put all scientific work under an effective state control," he said. He was commenting on the recent controversy sparked off by the us fertility researcher Richard Seed when he claimed that he would carry out the first human cloning very soon.
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