March 29, 2002
The Honorable Thomas J. Vilsack
State Capitol Building
Des Moines, IA 50319
Dear Governor Vilsack:
On behalf of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the Iowa
Biotechnology Association (IBA), I am writing to express concern with
legislation pending in the Iowa House of Representatives. Senate Bill
2118, in its current form, would prohibit all forms of human cloning.
By making researchers Class C felons, this bill will effectively outlaw
nuclear transfer technology for therapeutic purposes.
BIO and IBA are opposed to human reproductive cloning. It is too dangerous
technically and raises far too many ethical and social questions to be
undertaken. However, using cloning technology (somatic cell nuclear transfer)
to clone human cells for therapeutic purposes is considered one of the
most promising avenues of research for developing cures for a wide array
of diseases and disabilities.
We concur with recent recommendations by the National Academy of Sciences
(NAS) that the cloning of human beings for reproductive purposes should
be prohibited. However, the report also states that "the scientific
and medical considerations that justify a ban on human reproductive cloning
at this time are not applicable to nuclear transplantation to produce
stem cells. Because of the considerable potential for developing new medical
therapies to treat life-threatening diseases and advancing biomedical
knowledge, the panel supported the conclusion of a previous National Academies'
report Stem Cells and the Future of Regenerative Medicine
that recommends that biomedical research using nuclear transplantation
to produce stem cells be permitted." (A copy of this report is available
on the NAS Web site, www.nationalacademies.org.)
The implications of cloning a human being need to be addressed by scientists,
ethicists, religious leaders, health professionals, patients and broader
society. We are concerned that, unless people clearly understand the benefits
and limitations of different scientific techniques, well-meaning legislation
will continue to threaten vital research.
Thank you for your consideration of our concerns. If you have any questions,
please contact me or Patrick Kelly, director of state government relations,
at (202) 962-9200.
Carl B. Feldbaum
cc: Iowa Biotechnology Association