The Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, and eight state and territory premiers have agreed on a national human embryonic stem cell research policy. Stem cell research will be allowed to take place in Australia, but all forms of human cloning are to be banned, so Australian researchers will be initially limited to using existing 'spare' embryos from IVF treatments.
The agreement is a compromise between more strict regulation proposed by Howard and the less strict guidelines that individual states favoured. Scientists will be allowed to conduct research on existing embryos for the next three years. After three years surplus embryos from IVF procedures will be able to be used, provided it can be shown that they were not created solely for research purposes.
An ethics committee will draw up guidelines saying that embryos cannot be created for research and that consent from potential donors must be obtained before any embryos are used. Reproductive and therapeutic cloning are not allowed under the policy, which still has to pass through parliament before it becomes law. Members of Parliament will be allowed a free vote on the issue.
Sources and References
Federal and state governments agree to nationwide stem cell research guidelines
Leaders strike compromise deal on stem cells