Campaigning group LIFE, has expressed shock but is not surprised by comments made by Professor Ian Wilmut in After Dolly that "Doctors should be able to offer at-risk couples the opportunity to conceive with IVF methods, break down the resulting embryos into cells, correct any serious genetic defects then clone demonstrably healthy cells to create a new embryo that can be implanted to start a pregnancy." Spokesman Matthew O'Gorman said: "What Professor Wilmut fails to mention is that the cloned embryos will be deliberately destroyed once they have provided useful genetic material. Such a proposal is abhorrent for it treats the embryo as an instrument rather than an individual. Embryos will be commanded into existence; cloned simply to service another which is a shameful example of science without sense. "While Professor Wilmut may intend to cure those with genetic anomalies, the end does not justify the means. The legalisation of cloning in 2001 and our country's refusal to sign the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (1997) means that we are out of step with the majority of the civilised world. The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to oppose all forms of human cloning in March last year. This shows that the international community as a whole rightfully regards the practice as unethical. Ethics aside, the cloning of human embryos has not resulted in a single cure for disease which shows the practice to be both speculative and unproductive. The comments of Professor Wilmut are a cause for concern as they reveal that once the practice has been accepted in the Petri dish it is only a matter of time before cloned embryo transfer will be deemed acceptable. LIFE predicted this in 2001 and is genuinely concerned that we could be witnessing the start of a campaign to liberalise the law and approve cloning human beings for birth as well as in the laboratory. "True concern for those with genetic abnormalities should inspire us to seek scientific progress by investing in research which is predicated upon respect for the dignity of each individual from fertilisation. If we do not respect the most vulnerable members of the human species, regardless of their size or stage of development, we undermine true equality and treat our own kind as slaves to progress without principle."
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