European countries sign ban on human cloning

PARIS (AP) — Less than a week after an American scientist announced he would clone a child, 19 European nations signed a treaty Monday that said cloning people violated human dignity and was a misuse of science.
Britain and Germany, however, balked at signing the measure that London considers too strict and Bonn too mild.
Although Monday’s signing was planned months ago, it clearly took on a greater significance with the announcement last week by Chicago physicist Richard Seed that he will clone a child within two years.
The July 1997 presentation of Dolly the sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal, set off an international outcry over the implications for human biology.
Many U.S. and international leaders renewed their condemnation after Seed said that he planned to begin working on human cloning using a newly developed technique. Some physicians questioned whether Seed, who is not a doctor, had the expertise to successfully complete such an experiment.
Seed, unaffiliated with any institution, said he would move his enterprise to Tijuana, Mexico, if Congress bans human cloning in the United States.
The treaty says that cloning is “contrary to human dignity and thus constitutes a misuse of biology and medicine.” Signatory nations agreed to enact laws that outlaw human cloning, but the protocol itself makes no mention of sanctions against those that do not carry it out.
Dr. Axel Kahn, the top medical ethicist at the National Institute for Health and Medical Research in Paris, said a baby produced by cloning “is an insult to human rights.”
Britain — where Dolly was introduced — has a strong tradition of defending the freedoms of scientific research. It refused to join the protocol, seeing it as too rigid.
Germany claims the measure does not go far enough, and says it’s weaker than a current German law forbidding all research on human embryos — a legacy of Nazi attempts to conduct genetic engineering of humans.
The United States, Japan, Canada and the Vatican participated in drafting the protocol, which must be ratified by signatory nations before taking effect.