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The Australian government has issued its first license allowing scientists to create cloned human embryos to try and obtain embryonic stem cells. The in vitro-fertilization firm Sydney IVF was granted the licence and reportedly has access to 7,200 human eggs for its research. If the firm is successful it would be a world first, the Australian government's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), which granted the licence, said yesterday.
The director of Australians for Ethical Stem Cell Research, David van Gend, criticized the issuing of the licence, saying new technology meant cloning was no longer necessary. "We have regulations in Australia such that the abuses of cloning wouldn't happen here, we will not get live birth cloning," he said. "We won't get cloning right through to the foetal stage in order to use them for organ transplants, but if we teach the world how to clone you can be quite sure it will be used in less rigorous jurisdictions."