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Monday, 2 December 2002
Page: 6893


Senator HARRADINE (8:53 PM) —I think there has been a little misunderstanding. The material that was read out by Senator Boswell is 100 per cent correct, as we all acknowledge. I think the confusion has been about some people describing SCNT as developing and culturing the embryonic stem cell in tissue and then using that tissue for transfer for therapeutic purposes. That is sometimes incorrectly called `therapeutic cloning', and that is a misnomer that has been recognised in the report of the community affairs committee. Senator Patterson is correct, and Senator Boswell is correct in stating what his advisers have told him. The technique of cloning is the same whether the resulting embryo is for transfer to the body of a woman or for the harvesting of stem cells—it involves the destruction of that human embryo. As everyone around here knows now, although it was not evident in the House of Representatives debate at all, the cloning technique, the somatic cell nuclear transfer process, is the same whether the resulting embryo is transferred to a woman or whether it is harvested for its stem cells to be cultured for so-called therapy. It is not very therapeutic for the embryo, I suppose.

I support the amendment. I think it is very important for a number of reasons. The commercial area is an important reason. We are coming to that particular issue in the debate. It is in one of the following amendments, and there will be a number of other amendments. As Senator Boswell has said, once the embryonic stem cell leaves the country, there is no way that we have any control over what happens to that human embryo. I ask the minister: could the licensing committee, for example, impose a requirement on the applicant that stem cells derived from the excess ART embryos are not sent overseas? Is it possible for the licensing committee to exercise that function? Would the licensing committee be able to make that a condition?