Stem cells, superman, and the report of the select committee
Authors: Brownsword, R.
In 1998, the Wisconsin-based biologist James Thomson announced that his research group had made a major breakthrough by successfully isolating human embryonic stem cells. On this side of the Atlantic, too, there have been important developments, both scientific and regulatory. The regulatory story begins in the United Kingdom with the Committee of Inquiry into Human Fertilisation and Embryology. Controversially, Warnock took the view that research on human embryos was morally permissible; and some members of the Committee prepared, even then, to sanction the creation of embryos for research. The Select Committee notes that human dignity lies at the root of much international concern about new science and medicine but finds the idea elusive and short on practical guidance in the context of setting limits to permissible research on human embryos. Good science has a lot in common with a healthy policy debate about science.