Ad hoc recommendation

Ad hoc recommendation

According to the German Ethics Council, Germany should work toward an international ban on cloning. Technically, this possibility is apparently getting closer. The Ethics Council has now submitted a recommendation to legislators on this ie.

In the statement of the German Ethics Council published on Monday, the expert panel also reaffirms the importance of the ban on this so-called reproductive cloning of humans. For Germany, the Council sees no immediate need for legislative action on the cloning ban. However, in connection with two possible areas of application of new stem cell technologies, it recommends that ethical and legal questions be clarified.

New challenge in the cloning ban

New developments in stem cell research enable the production of artificial germ cells and embryos. In the statement, the Council discusses the extent to which these entities are covered by the relevant laws in Germany. For the "prevailing opinion," this is the case with the Embryo Protection Act. The focus is on possible new challenges for the cloning ban and ethical questions that arise in connection with artificial germ cells.

On the one hand, the cloning of humans by cell nucleus transfer or using "induced pluripotent stem cells" (iPS cells) is concerned. Against the background of current research results, the probability is increasing "that human cloning for reproductive purposes will also become at least technically possible in the future," the statement says.

Where is stem cell research headed??

Also at ie is the use of germ cells derived from iPS cells. "It cannot be ruled out that in the future attempts will be made to use this technique for reproductive purposes in humans as well, even in constellations in which reproduction is not possible by natural means," according to the expertise. This would allow same-sex couples to try to produce genetically related children with both parents. According to the Ethics Council, even the union of artificially produced male and female germ cells from one and the same individual would be conceivable.

Meaning of naturalness and artificiality

The Council first advocates more precise and uniform legal provisions in the relevant laws, especially for the terms embryo and totipotency (note.d.Red.: ability to form the whole). Furthermore, according to the panel, the ethical questions resulting from the new technical possibilities for germ cell production should be discussed.

The Ethics Council not only has concerns about medical safety and possible effects on offspring, but also calls for a public discussion on the relationship between generations and the meaning of naturalness and artificiality at the beginning of human life. In the process, it should also be clarified what it would mean "if, in the context of procreation, both the mode of different sexes and the descent of two persons were abandoned".

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