International Perspective on Public Policy on Human ESC Research


Prohibits the derivation and use of human ESCs from blastocysts.

United States:

As articulated by President Bush on August 9, 2001, permits federal funding only for research using cells from approximately 60 stem cell lines identified by the National Institutes of Health as having been derived from excess human embryos prior to the August 9 announcement. There is currently no federal law or policy prohibiting the private sector from creating stem cells by in vitro fertilization or by the SCNT technique for the purpose of research, but as this report went to print, legislative prohibitions were under consideration. The policies of most individual states also currently permit private funding of the use of human ESCs derived from excess in vitro fertilization embryos, embryos created by in vitro fertilization for the purpose of research, and embryos created with the SCNT technique, although a few states have banned some of these.


Permits the use of human ESCs and their derivation from superfluous embryos not needed by the genetic parents for reproduction. (This approach has also been recommended by ethical advisory committees in Canada, Japan, and Germany.)

United Kingdom:

Permits the use of human ESCs and their derivation from leftover or superfluous embryos not needed by the genetic parents for reproduction, from embryos created for research purposes by in vitro fertilization, and embryos created with the SCNT technique. (The option of allowing human creation of ESCs for research purposes with the SCNT technique is also being considered in Italy, France, Australia, Israel, and Holland.)

It is not for this committee to comment on the validity of the ethical or moral arguments for or against any of the alternatives. Indeed, it is highly likely that even the members of the committee would differ in what is acceptable to them personally. It is, however, appropriate for the committee to reiterate a few key points to increase the focus and clarity of the various ethical debates.

First, arguments in favor of imposing constraints or even an outright prohibition on ESC research are frequently supported by the assertion that research on stem cells from adult tissues alone will lead to the development of the sought-after medical therapies. In his presentation

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement