Beliefnet
LONDON, April 3 (UPI) -- British government approval of cloning of human embryos for medical research is expected after a special committee says benefits outweigh ethical problems, the Daily Telegraph reports Monday.

According to the news report, a panel of government experts led by the government's chief medical officer, Dr. Liam Donaldson, has agreed to recommend the controversial changes to the law. The news report said the likely recommended changes will allow the use of cloned embryos to create tissue to treat the sick. The news report cited "Whitehall sources" saying Prime Minister Tony Blair's cabinet is virtually certain to end the ban on the "therapeutic cloning" of embryos for research that could eventually cure kidney, liver or heart disease.

Blair's government reportedly wants to launch a debate aimed at persuading the public that embryo cloning for research "is not the same as creating a carbon copy of a human being," the Daily Telegraph reported. In Britain, the view is expected to produce strong opposition from the Roman Catholic Church that insists "harvesting an embryo" will always be "unacceptable."

There is already massive public opposition in Britain to trials of genetically modified crops, as well as use of genetic information by insurance companies. The newspaper, however, said the government has concluded that the potential benefits of embryo cloning are so great it would be "foolish to outlaw research at this stage".

Among those supporting the idea, the plan will be to use cells to grow parts of the body that could be used to replace damaged organs, including a leukemia-suffering child's bone marrow or damaged heart tissue from a heart attack. The Telegraph said the report is expected to be published next month and will urge strict rules, specifying the circumstances in which human embryos can be cloned.

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