Medical Group Calls on UN Not to Ban Therapeutic Cloning

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:05pm EDT

( - The United Nations plans to vote this week on a global ban on human cloning, but a medical coalition opposed to the ban is hoping to sway U.N. members.

The treaty, led by Costa Rica and the U.S., will ban all forms of cloning, including therapeutic cloning which produces stem cells and could cure diseases and conditions affecting over 100 million Americans.

"We're urging all of our members and patients to contact the Missions at the United Nations and ask them not to support a treaty that is anti-medical research, anti-cures, and anti- patients," said Daniel Perry, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, in a press release.

Perry's group is made up of 90 nationally recognized patient groups, universities, and scientific societies. CAMR is leading the opposition to the ban and also led the call for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

On Wednesday, CAMR organizations began faxing letters to all countries that are members of the U.N. General Assembly.

"The overwhelming support and passing of Proposition 71 in California is a direct result of patients and scientists being frustrated by political ideology at the federal level. I hope that the U.N. will take a lesson from this great state and will encourage and welcome new research, rather than slamming the door on patients by passing a global ban," Perry said.

Proposition 71 was a ballot measure approved by voters on Nov. 2 that authorizes a $3 billion bond ($300 million a year in taxpayer dollars for 10 years) to pay for embryonic stem cell research. Dubbed the "clone and kill" bond by a group of Sacramento-area ministers, Proposition 71 was endorsed by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"People throughout the world, including a majority of Americans, support therapeutic cloning research - U.N. member countries need to now support their people and vote against the Costa Rica treaty," Perry said.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has voiced his support for therapeutic cloning, and many key U.S. allies, including South Korea, Britain, Japan, and Belgium have called for the defeat of the global ban.

This week's vote on the ban will take place in the Sixth Committee of the U.N., which is the legal committee for the global body. Then the General Assembly will vote on the recommendations of the Sixth Committee in December.

If a treaty passes the General Assembly, a two-thirds majority of the U.S. Senate would be required to ratify it.

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