March 18, 2011
Minnesota House and Senate committees have approved on voice votes, bills that would prohibit human cloning for any purpose; the bills have now been referred to further committees. The Human Cloning Prohibition Act, companion bills SF 695 and HF 998, would specifically prohibit creation of cloned human embryos for any purpose, but would not affect any stem cell research, including human embryonic stem cell research. Some have proposed using cloning (technically termed somatic cell nuclear transfer) to create embryos, which would then be cannibalized for their stem cells, even though no one has yet successfully harvested stem cells from cloned human embryos, and only one lab has even been able to create a handful of clones.
Most scientists have turned their backs on cloning (nuclear transfer) technology, including Ian Wilmut, who is the cloner of Dolly the sheep. This is because nuclear transfer cloning techniques can be abused to create born human clones. In addition, newer techniques can reprogram skin cells into "induced pluripotent stem cells" (iPS cells) that act like embryonic stem cells yet potentially match the patient from whom they were created, by methods that are cheaper and easier than nuclear transfer cloning, and bypass the ethical problems in use of embryos, eggs, or cloning.
The Minnesota Medical Association has come out against the cloning prohibition bills, and in support of nuclear transfer cloning both for experiments as well as for born human clones. They say in the last paragraph of their press release:
"The MMA supports research on multipotent stem cells (including adult and cord blood stem cells); using somatic cell nuclear transfer technology in biomedical research (therapeutic cloning); the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer technology for producing a human child (reproductive cloning), and strong public support of federal funding for research involving human pluripotent stem cells."
So, they support anything and everything.
The MMA have now updated their press release with a correction, noting that MMA supports cloning of human embryos for experiments, and opposes gestating cloned human embryos to birth.