The science ministry has released draft guidelines for a new law that would ban the creation of embryos that could lead to human cloning but allow noncloning research on human and animal embryos.
The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry compiled the draft rules Friday to follow a new law that makes human cloning a crime carrying up to 10 years in prison. The law was enacted in November and came into effect June 6.
The ministry on Saturday began receiving public opinions on the guidelines for one month and will submit them for deliberation at the governmental Council for Science and Technology Policy.
The guidelines will be finalized by Dec. 5, ministry officials said.
The draft rules and the law ban the creation of embryos by implanting a somatic cell into an unfertilized egg deprived of a nucleus because of the high risk of this leading to the birth of a human clone.
However, the tentative guidelines allow research into the creation of three types of embryos using human and animal cells because they are “medically valuable.”
The three types of embryos referred to are created by either implanting the nucleus of a human embryo into an unfertilized egg that has been deprived of a nucleus; transplanting the nucleus of a human somatic cell into an unfertilized animal egg without a nucleus; or mixing animal embryos with human somatic cells.
The draft rules would not allow research other than that aimed at developing regenerative medicine and the prevention of mitochondrial disorders.
The draft also bans the implanting of such embryos into the wombs of humans or animals, in line with the law.
They also stipulate that fertilized human eggs and ordinary eggs should be donated for research and they oblige researchers to obtain the written consent of donors. Researchers would also be required to hear opinions from their institutions’ ethics committees before filing applications to the ministry to obtain permission for research.
Under the law, even test-tube related research requires state permission.
The guidelines will be posted today at the ministry’s Web site — www.mext.go.jp
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