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Embryonic stem cell restrictions up to each country: report.

TOKYO, June 21 Kyodo

A committee of the U.N. Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has compiled a report stipulating that regulations governing research on embryonic stem cells should be determined by individual countries based on debate within each one, committee members said Thursday.

As opinions in each country on using embryos for research purposes differ greatly, the report suggests that two conclusions would be acceptable, either that such research cannot be approved at all or that it can be approved with limitations, according to the report of UNESCO's International Bioethics Committee (IBC).

The report also stated that it would be desirable for each country to conduct active debate over the issue of embryonic stem cells and to clarify what position each country will adopt. Stem cells have the ability to develop into more than one form of human tissue.

The report also said that if and when a country decides to approve such research, the creation of state-level restrictions and guidelines would be necessary, as well as a ban on the sale and purchase of embryos. It also urges countries to hear deliberations on the research from independent ethics committees.

There are strong expectations that embryonic stem cells will someday be usable in regenerating damaged tissue, with both the United States and Britain having softened restrictions to promote such research.

In Japan, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has compiled a draft of research guidelines and deliberations are underway toward opening the path on such research.

Germany, Austria and Hungary ban research using embryos.

Commenting on the report, Ryuichi Ida, chairman of the IBC, said, ''It is impossible to decide 'yes' or 'no' uniformly'' as the position of each country on embryos vary.

''I believe there is meaning in having presented a path when each country conducts debate,'' he said.
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Publication:Japan Science Scan
Date:Jun 23, 2001
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