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Great Britain’s leading academic institution, the Royal Society, has joined with 67 other national academies to urge the United Nations to ban cloning babies but permit using the technology for medical research, according to The Scotsman.

The United States is pressing the UN for an international ban on all forms of human cloning. Such a ban could be introduced at the UN’s general session in October. Member nations would not be compelled to agree to the ban, but scientists fear such a treaty would place a major obstacle in the way of vital stem cell research, which could help biologists studying diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and cancer–perhaps one day even leading to cures.

Researchers outside the U.S. have already created cells via human cloning; South Koreans published the first evidence of cloned embryonic stem cells last year, and in August, the British government granted scientists from the University of Newcastle a license to clone human embryos for medical research.

A big concern is that banning all forms of human cloning will drive maverick cloners underground, away from serious attempts to regulate the research.

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