Israel does not have a central licensing authority, but it does have well-developed guidelines emerging out of the work of the Bioethics Advisory Committee of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and, because the Health Ministry delegates decisions regarding new genetic research involving human beings to the Helsinki Committee for Genetic Experiments on Human Subjects, it also has a centralized review process for hES cell research.40 Consistent with the guidelines proposed in this report, the Israeli guidelines require informed consent from donors of surplus blastocysts. The guidelines state that best practices include mentioning research uses from the beginning of the IVF process and separating the medical team responsible for the IVF treatment and donation from the scientific teams involved in embryo research who receive the donation. As in the recommendations made in the next chapter, buying and selling of embryos is forbidden in Israel, but making new embryos solely for research, including blastocysts made by NT, is permissible. Research and possible applications must be justifiable in terms of the benefit that it offers humanity, and confidentiality and privacy of the donors should be respected. As in the recommendation proposed in Chapter 3 for purely in vitro work on hES cell lines, Israel allows such work to be conducted without further need for specific ethical authorization.
In June 2002, Singapore’s Bioethics Advisory Committee released its report Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Human Stem Cell Research, Reproductive and Therapeutic Cloning, in which it recommended that NT be permitted under centralized regulation. Consistent with the guidelines proposed here, the regulatory framework should require the informed voluntary consent of donors, prohibit the commerce and sale of donated materials, require strong scientific justification before making new embryos solely for research purposes, and stipulate that no one shall be under a duty to participate in any manner of research on human stem cells to which he or she has a conscientious objection. The report has been presented to the relevant ministries, and the government will decide on the recommendations later.41
Canada is still debating legislation to regulate assisted reproductive technologies and embryo research, but it operates under guidelines that incorporate both centralized and local review. Under the guidelines issued by the Canadian Institute for Health Research,42 review and approval by the central Stem Cell Oversight Committee, by local research ethics boards (REBs), and, where appropriate, by animal care committees is required for all research involving the derivation, in vitro study, and clinical trial of hES cell lines. At any time, however, the local REB or animal care committee may refer an hES cell research proposal to the Stem Cell Oversight Committee for ethics review if it considers the research to be within the oversight committee’s purview according to the above criteria. Such decisions by the