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Cablegate: Cloning and Stem Cell Bill Progressing Well

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 000947

SIPDIS

STATE FOR OES/PCI, OES/STAS (NEUREITER/REYNOLDS),
WHA/CAN (RUNNING)

WHITE HOUSE FOR OSTP (GABRIEL & LEVINSON)

HHS FOR OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY, OFFICE OF
INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS (STEIGER)

STATE PASS TO PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON BIOETHICS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO PHUM TSPL SOCI KSCA CA
SUBJECT: CLONING AND STEM CELL BILL PROGRESSING WELL

REF: (A) 2002 OTTAWA 1706

(B) 2002 OTTAWA 836

-------
Summary
-------

1. Bill C-13, "An Act Respecting Assisted Human
Reproduction," was introduced into the Canadian House
of Commons on October 9, 2002. If enacted, it would
ban human cloning for both reproductive and
research/therapeutic purposes. The legislation, itself
a clone of Bill C-56 (Ref A), which died when
Parliament was prorogued in September 2002, will
prohibit cloning, as well as regulate Assisted Human
Reproductive (AHR) activities and related research. The
bill would allow research on human embryos that remain
after fertility treatment. Such use would require free
and informed consent by the parents, and would require
a government license. To control activity involving
new reproductive technologies, stem cells and cloning,
the legislation proposes the establishment of a new
agency, the Assisted Human Reproductive Agency of
Canada. The bill is expected to pass final muster in
the House of Commons within days and move on to
scrutiny in the Canadian Senate. End summary.

--------------------------------------------- ----
Legislation prohibits and controls many activities
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. On October 9, 2002 Canadian Health Minister Anne
McLellan introduced Bill C-13 (formerly C-56) "An Act
Respecting Assisted Human Reproduction" into the House
of Commons. It covers a number of controversial
issues, including access to embryonic stem cells for
research, cloning and surrogate motherhood.
The final House of Commons vote on Bill C-13, is
expected as early as April 3rd. If passed by the House
of Commons, the bill will move to the Senate, where it
will face light scrutiny in the Liberal-dominated
chamber (which is characterized by its members being
appointed by the Prime Minister rather than being
elected through general elections).

3. Prohibited Activities: The bill prohibits a number
of specific activities that must not be carried out
under any circumstances, including germ-line
alteration, animal/human hybrids and the
commercialization of procreation. These prohibited
activities remain unchanged from the predecessor
legislation (ref A).

4. "Controlled Activities", on the other hand, may be
carried out, but only in accordance with the
legislation and regulations. The proposed law requires
that a license be authorized for any activities related
to maintenance/transportation/ or
importation/exportation of an "in vitro" embryo. (It is
interesting to note that proposed US cloning
legislation (HR-534 and S-245), in addition to banning
the commercialization of cloned embryos, also prohibits
the importation of medical therapies created from
cloned embryos. We will be watching whether this will
have an impact on Canadian research efforts with
embryos. End Comment.)

5. Bill C-13, like its predecessor C-56, describes
embryonic stem cell research as a controlled activity.
While the legislation bans cloning and also the
creation of embryos expressly for research, it permits
the use of "surplus" embryos for extraction of stem
cells. In addressing this issue, Bill C-13 specifies
that licenses for such research may be issued only if
researchers can satisfy the Agency that pre-existing
embryonic stem cell lines or other means cannot be
substituted.

--------------------------------------------
Assisted Human Reproductive Agency proposed
-------------------------------------------

6. To enforce the Act, license and manage controlled
activities, such as performing research on surplus "in
vitro" embryos, the bill calls for the establishment of
the "Assisted Human Reproductive Agency of Canada."
Reporting to the Minister of Health, the agency would
have a broad mandate, including the collection,
analysis and management of a vast array of personal
information under the rubric of "health reporting
information."


-------
Comment
-------

7. The Quebec-based Raelians' December 2002 claim they
had successfully cloned a human being and that more
were on the way, provoked a media frenzy and
highlighted the pressing need for a law prohibiting
human cloning. The timeliness of the bill, however,
does not shield it from critics; leading research
funding advocates such as the Juvenile Diabetes
Research Foundation (JDRF) are making a final plea to
parliamentarians to reconsider C-13's ban of
therapeutic cloning of any kind (cloning or embryo-
splitting) for any purpose, either reproduction or
research. On the other hand, the Canadian Conference
of Catholic Bishops is urging MPs to strengthen the
bill, by amending it to prohibit research on surplus
human embryos. Observers note, however, that
amendments to this bill, particularly in the context of
therapeutic cloning are unlikely.

8. The complete text of Bill C-13, "An Act Respecting
Assisted Human Reproduction" is available at the
Canadian Parliament's website: www.parl.gc.ca. Look
for C-13 under the rubric "Bills"; then "House of
Commons"; then "Government Bills".

Cellucci

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