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Scientists say Catholic clergy inflaming embryo debate

Leading stem cell scientists last night accused the Catholic church of deliberately targeting parts of embryology legislation that are amenable to “scary language”.

Their comments come after an Easter break when the human fertilisation and embryology bill was condemned in Catholic sermons across the country.

Scientists stress that more than 99% of the genetic make-up of an animal is removed from an egg before human DNA is inserted. The “hybrid” exists in a laboratory for up to six days only to harvest stem cells for experimental purposes before being destroyed. The method complies with legislation and in January the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority granted year-long licences to scientists who had applied to use it.

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, head of the genetics division at the Medical Research Council’s National Institute For Medical Research, said: “Maybe there’s an awful lot in the bill that goes against the strict Roman Catholic view and it’s not just these mixtures of animal and human they object to. Perhaps they’ve decided that they’re going to focus on this one particular issue because they can use scary language like ‘creating monsters’ and make ground on this particular battle, when [other parts of the bill], like IVF treatment, are well accepted in the UK.”

Full story at The Guardian.

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