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Britain to ban human cloning

LONDON, England -- A ban on human cloning has been pledged by the British government to allay public fears.

The British Health Secretary Alan Milburn said the current system of control through licences needed to be strengthened by law "to ensure that genetic advances are used for good rather than for evil".

Milburn said he would bring forward legislation as soon as the government was able.

Although human cloning is currently banned by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, Milburn says its policy could be overturned at any time and a licence issued.

But a licence on its own was insufficient, he said.

Milburn is expected to tell scientists and doctors that strict boundaries on research are required to calm public fears if Britain is to become a world leader in health care genetics.

Britain would become the first country in the world to ban human cloning, according to London's Independent newspaper.

Genetic research "provides potentially major health gains," said Milburn, who has announced an extra 30 million ($43 million) in genetic research funding.

Milburn noted that genetic research helps diagnose patients early and increases the use of preventive medicine.

"As we improve health services, and in particular as we move towards a model of a health care where you can predict and prevent diseases developing, there should be significant financial savings," Milburn said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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Human Cloning Foundation
Chief Medical Officer's Expert Group on Therapeutic Cloning - Stem Cell Research: Medical Progress with Responsibility

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