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The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) urges Congress as it considers legislation that would ban the cloning of human beings to be prudent and not to restrict or impair critical biomedical research involving human cells, genes, tissues and organs. The ASM agrees with and supports the conclusions and recommendations of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission in its June 1997 report. The Society is concerned, however, that the language of current legislative proposals before Congress to ban the cloning of human beings is too broad and could impede valuable areas of medical research. We urge, therefore, that Congress judiciously consider the complex scientific issues involved in this legislation because of the dire consequences it may have for future advances in biomedical research and treatments for disease.

Cloning of specific human cells and tissues to develop better treatments for human disease does not raise the same scientific and ethical issues that are involved in the cloning of human beings and should be continued in the public interest. Restrictions should be crafted with care to permit continued research on the cloning of human cells and DNA sequences. However, regulatory oversight is appropriate at the level of intended use of research results, where scientists, ethicists, and public representatives can jointly consider the risks, benefits, safety and applications in medicine of the practical outcomes of current research using human cells and tissues in fields such as gene therapy, burn therapy, cancer and diabetes.

The ASM represents over 42,000 microbiologists and would be pleased to assist the Congress in developing sound science policy regarding human cloning which also promotes responsible life saving research.