The decision by Australian Parliament yesterday to overturn the ban on human cloning is a major milestone for Australia. The majority of Parliament voted for SCIENCE and against MYTHOLOGY and I salute them.

You can read the text of the Bill here
and the Explanatory Memo here.

To save you the trouble (because I know you’re busy watching some jackass hurt himself on a mega-pogo-stick on YouTube), here’s the duck’s guts:

In summary, a person may apply for a licence to:

* use excess ART embryos;
* create human embryos other than by fertilisation of a human egg by a human sperm, and use such embryos;
* create human embryos (by a process other than fertilisation of human egg by human sperm) containing genetic material provided by more than 2 persons, and use such embryos;
* create human embryos using precursor cells from a human embryo or a human fetus, and use such embryos;
* undertake research and training involving the fertilisation of a human egg, up to but not including the first mitotic division, outside the body of a woman for the purposes of research or training;
* create hybrid embryos by the fertilisation of an animal egg by human sperm, and develop such embryos up to, but not including, the first mitotic division provided that the creation or use is for the purposes of testing sperm quality and will occur in an accredited ART centre; and
* create hybrid embryos by introducing the nucleus of a human cell into an animal egg, and use of such embryos.

Now the definition that the NHMRC (The National Health and Medical Research Council) developed for “embryo” is:

A human embryo is a discrete entity that has arisen from either:
(a) the first mitotic division when fertilisation of a human oocyte by a
human sperm is complete; or
(b) any other process that initiates organised development of a
biological entity with a human nuclear genome or altered human
nuclear genome that has the potential to develop up to, or beyond,
the stage at which the primitive streak appears;
and has not yet reached eight weeks of development since the first mitotic

Here is a link to their Dec 2005 discussion paper for those of you interested in more detail.

Tell me what you think on the TPN Forum. I’m running a poll.