Jail and stiff fines for cloning of humans

UNSCRUPULOUS scientists caught trying to clone human beings will be jailed for up to 10 years under new laws being proposed to ensure science-friendly Singapore does not host bad medical research. 

They can also be fined up to S$100,000 (RM222,000). 

The punishments, on par with those handed out to serious criminals here, are among a list of penalties for various offences being laid out in the Regulation of Biomedical Research Act 2003, which is expected to be approved by early next year. 

The penalties parallel similar efforts in Britain, the United States, Italy and many other countries that do not want scientists to dabble in human life-creating research. 

The 37-page draft of the Act has received feedback from 12 people in the first five days since Nov 10, when it was put on the ministry’s website – www.moh.gov.sg – to get public response. 

There have been no objections so far, the Health Ministry told The Straits Times

While several people expressed support, others wanted clarification on more technical points, added the ministry, without elaborating. 

The public has until Nov 30 to comment on the bill. 

It has several key provisions that, among other things, require scientists to get special approval from the authorities for human embryonic stem cell research. 

Institutions must also get a government licence to do biomedical research, and tissue donors must be given all the information needed to make an informed decision. 

A person cannot be registered as a biomedical researcher unless the institution is satisfied he “is suitably qualified to conduct biomedical research; and is of good character and reputation,” the bill states. 

The upcoming legislation is based on guidelines drawn up by Singapore’s Bioethics Advisory Committee, which held extensive consultation with experts, interest groups and the general public before completing its work. 

Most religious groups here said they did not oppose research using stem cells obtained from embryos less than 14 days old, provided the research was meaningful and beneficial to mankind. 

Scientists who support cloning to produce human embryos for medical purposes hope to use stem cells from the embryos to find cures for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other debilitating diseases. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network  

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