Vancouver, Marzo de 1999
The term 'cloning', while used in a general sense to refer
to the production of genetic copies of individual organisms or cells without sexual
reproduction, involves a number of different techniques, including embryo splitting;
somatic cell nuclear transfer into an enucleated egg; and development of cell lines,
derived from a somatic cell, in cell culture. Types of cloning may also be distinguished
according to the organism in question and to the purpose for which the technique is
employed. Human cloning, for example may be subdivided according to the purposes for which
it is carried out reproductive cloning, basic research and therapeutic cloning.
The HUGO Ethics Committee has addressed itself to the
issues of principal concern to the Human Genomics community and to the societies in which
they carry out their work. The implications for human genome research of cloning as
applied to other life forms are also of relevance.
The Committee recognizes the variation in national laws on
the implementation of cloning and embryo experimentation. It has had regard to the four
principles outlined in its 'Statement on the Principled Conduct of Genetic Research':
Recognition that the human genome is part of the Common
heritage of humanity;
Adherence to international norms of human rights;
Respect for the values, traditions, culture and integrity
of participants in research;
Acceptance and upholding of human dignity and freedom
The HUGO Ethics Committee recommends:
1. Animal cloning
That animal cloning should be subject to the same
principles concerning animal welfare as other experimentation on animals. Its purpose
should be clearly defined and procedures should be in accordance with those mechanisms of
ethical review which are in place. Regard should be had to possible consequences for
2. Human cloning
2.1. Reproductive cloning that it is important to
acknowledge the distinction between cloning as a goal which may be pursued by more than
one means, including somatic cell nuclear transfer: and somatic cell nuclear transfer as a
procedure that may have multiple uses, including prevention of mitochondrial disease that
assuming it to be possible, in the light of: the profound unease concerning the
possibility of growing a human being from the genetic information in the nucleus of a
somatic cell of an existing human being the potential effects on a child produced by
cloning of 'living in the shadow' of an already existing human being the possible effects
on parent-child and inter-sibling relationships the need for caution concerning the
possible consequences of producing a child from a mature somatic cell there should be no
attempt to produce a genetic 'copy' of an existing human being by somatic cell nuclear
transfer that given appropriate technology the avoidance of disease by somatic cell
nuclear transfer may be supported provided that it is certain that a disease is caused by
an error in the mitochondrial (non-nuclear) DNA.
2.2. Basic Research that basic research with somatic cell
nuclear transfer and other cloning techniques in both humans and animals should be
supported to investigate a wide variety of scientific questions, including the study of
gene expression, the study of aging and cell 'suicide'. Such research should be in
conformity with the ethical requirements outlined in the 'Statement on the Principled
Conduct of Genetic Research'.
2.3. Therapeutic cloning that research on the use of
cloning technology to produce particular cells and tissues (e.g., skin, nerve or muscle)
for therapeutic transplants should be supported
2.4. Implications for research on embryos that, while
recognizing that despite cultural and national differences about the moral and legal
status of embryos, the deliberate creation of embryos has widely been seen as unacceptable
for the purposes of genetic research and that whether all constructs created by somatic
cell nuclear transfer should be regarded as embryos as they are usually understood
(totipotent and viable) remains to be resolved and where research under 2.2. or 2.3.
involves somatic cell nuclear transfer to an enucleated ovum or the creation of
pluripotent embryonic stem cells from embryos donated for research, researchers should not
attempt to develop such cells in utero even for a brief period certain research not
included under 2.2. and 2.3. but of indisputable and widespread benefit to humanity may
require the creation of embryos as usually understood, without any opportunity for early
embryonic development in the uterus, in order to grow stem cells. This might be
considered, in societies whose laws permit this course, in the rare circumstances where
the study of a particular disease or its potential cure can only be facilitated by
studying pluripotent embryonic stem cells in cell culture.
That in light of the rapid developments in science, the
issues dealt with in this statement be kept under review and the public should be engaged
in continuing dialogue.
HUGO Ethics Committee (March 1999). [Prof. Kare Berg, Prof.
Alex Capron, Prof. Ruth F. Chadwick (Chair, Sub-Committee on Cloning), Hon. Justice
Michael Kirby, Prof. Bartha Maria Knoppers (Chair), Prof. Darryl R.J. Macer, Dr. Thomas H.
Murray, Prof. M.F. Niermeijer (Co-chair), Prof. Renzong Qiu, Prof. Stefano Rodota, Dr.
Hikaru Takebe (Co-chair), Dr. Nancy Wexler].