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INTERNATIONAL NEWS | South Korean Parliament Passes Law Banning Type of Cloning, Broadening Embryonic Stem Cell Research

INTERNATIONAL NEWS | South Korean Parliament Passes Law Banning Type of Cloning, Broadening Embryonic Stem Cell Research
[May 19, 2008]

South Korea's Parliament on Friday passed a law that bans inserting human somatic cells -- or cells that can form tissues and organs -- into animal eggs and allows researchers to use human embryonic stem cells to treat "general" diseases, Agence France-Presse reports. A previous law only allowed embryonic stem cells to be used for research to treat infertility and "rare or incurable" diseases, according to Agence France-Presse.

The ban on cross-species cloning is punishable by up to three years in jail, according to the country's Health Ministry. Kim Seung-Il, a health ministry official, said, "This law is aimed at enhancing bioethics." Park Se-Pill, a cloning expert, said the law "will serve as a very serious hindrance to research into cloning," adding that he and colleagues often used animal eggs in their research "because many eggs were needed while human eggs were difficult to obtain." Park said that South Korea is "going backward while other countries move ahead" with the research (Agence France-Presse, 5/16).