|'Hold the Clone,' Says Congressman|
When U.S. Rep. James Greenwood (R-PA) read reports of scientists' plans to proceed with cloning a human being, he decided it was time to "hold the clone," so to speak, until his House subcommittee can hold hearings on the controversial procedure.
Greenwood's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on March 28, to consider the ability of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to adequately oversee the research and technology required to clone human beings.
In announcing the hearings, Rep. Greenwood cited problems encountered in the process since the successful cloning of Dolly the sheep. "[S]ince then, the success of this dramatic but primitive technology has been measured, with most cloning attempts resulting in severe birth defects, miscarriages or still births. Now that some scientists appear eager to forge ahead in cloning a human being, this Committee will examine many of the serious safety and ethical implications surrounding such efforts,'' stated Rep. Greenwood in a March 13, 2001 press release.
Joining Greenwood was House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), who stated "There are simply too many unanswered questions at this time. Hopefully, our hearing will be the first step towards shedding some light on this controversial issue."
Ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Rep. Peter Deutsch (D-FL) commented that while recent progress in cloning technologies held promise for the future, "such progress has raised some serious issues that need to be examined, and I look forward to working with Chairman Greenwood on this issue."
According to this October 26, 1998 letter issued by the FDA to Institutional Review Boards and Clinical Investigators, "Clinical research using cloning technology to create a human being is subject to FDA regulation under the Public Health Service Act and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act."
All studies into human cloning must be pre-approved by the FDA. The FDA may prohibit human cloning studies if it finds that "human subjects are or would be exposed to an unreasonable and significant risk of illness or injury," during the course of the research.
Questions arising as to the qualifications, experience or training of the researchers involved are also grounds for the FDA to deny requests for human cloning studies.