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EU research commissioner opposes funding for human cloning, stem cell projects

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - The European Commission will not finance any projects involving the cloning of humans or stem cell research and hopes all 15 European Union members will forbid work in such areas, its research commissioner said.

In an interview published Thursday in the Financial Times Deutschland, Philippe Busquin said cloning has no scientific value and could damage the standing of science as a whole.

"This question deeply concerns human life as we know it, and presents us with a pressing ethical problem," Busquin was quoted as saying.

Busquin, a Belgian, also said none of the $15.9 billion approved in February for research over the next four years would go to projects involving cloning or stem cell research.

Nine EU member states have passed laws banning research on stem cells and human embryos and the commission has urged the remaining members of the European Union to follow suit.

Germany and France, which have been actively pursuing international legislation to ban such research, formally presented a joint initiative to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday pushing for a U.N. treaty to ban human cloning.

In cloning, genes from an adult cell are implanted into a human egg from which the key genetic material has been removed. The egg is then cultured into an embryo and implanted in a woman's uterus. The offspring would have only the genes from the adult cell. The result would be a genetic duplicate of the cell donor.

A bill has passed the U.S. House of Representatives that would outlaw human cloning and penalize offenders with prison sentences and heavy fines. No votes have been taken on a companion bill in the Senate.

Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell, was created in Scotland in 1997. Since then, cattle, sheep, pigs and other animals have been cloned.

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