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Stem cell debate remains contentious in Missouri

By Bill Raack, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – As election day approaches and millions of dollars are spent on campaign ads, the constitutional amendment on stem cell research in Missouri remains very contentious.

The debate centers on whether the cloning of human embryos would be banned. Speaking on KWMU's "St. Louis on the Air" program Wednesday, Cathy Cleaver Ruse with Missourians Against Human Cloning said the amendment's fine print would allow bio-tech firms to conduct somatic cell nuclear transfer.

"That is the scientific term for cloning," Ruse said. "That is the method used to clone Dolly the sheep. But don't take my word for it. The National Academy of Sciences says somatic cell nuclear transfer is cloning, the American Medical Association, NIH, even the International Society of Stem Cell Research says somatic cell nuclear transfer is cloning."

Supporters of the amendment insist that human cloning - which requires the implantation of an embryo into a woman's uterus - is explicitly banned.

Don Rubin with the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures said the amendment would not ban all cloning, which he says is already widely used.

"Cloning is used in making vaccines to protect our children," he said. "Cloning of DNA was used to sequence the human genome. No responsible person wants to ban all cloning. What we want to see banned is cloning a human being, cloning a human version of Dolly the sheep and amendment two would clearly ban any attempt to make a Dolly the human in Missouri."