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Discussion on Stem Cell Research

Hwang Sang-Ik: Are there any questions for Dr. Wang?

Macer: In the context of Chinese politics how soon do you expect regulations to be in place?

Wang: I hope it is soon. We have given guidelines at the end of last year to the Ministries, and Prof. Qiu and Prof. Li have asked them to approve some type of guideline for China. It is now one year and there are still no regulations yet. We feel somewhat angry now.

Singer: Thank you. Peter Singer from Princeton@University. Can you tell us a little bit more about Prof. Zhen's experiments? Because I'm not quite sure why he did it or exactly what the reasons for the moral concerns were here. He was presumably not trying to bring this embryo to a stage of birth, or anything like that? Or was it simply the fact that he was mixing cells from animals and humans that was supposed to be the reason for such a serious ethical concern? Or was it something else?

Wang: We asked him, but he said that he didn't want to reach clinical trials He said he wanted to obey ethical guidelines. But his experiments stopped. They were for scientific research only, and the precise details are unknown. He said he did not want to do anything bad for women.

Hwang Sang-Ik: Thank you. The next speaker is Prof. Um from Korea. Leavitt: Thank you very much, are there any questions or comments?

Shoji: I am from University of Hokkaido. What is the state of the Korean bill in your parliament? I heard that for the time being the debate has been suspended? What is the situation of the debate over the bill?

Um: There are two difficult points. One point is creating embryos that are transferred into human organs; the other one is hybridizing between humans and animals. Some scientists hope to have these types of experiments to be permitted. But religious authorities and ethicists do not permit that. There are also some other experts in the audience who can discuss this.

Hwang Sang-Ik: Thank you, and the next paper is by Professor Li from Beijing.

Li: Thank you very much for inviting me to this conference. Since my English is not good, Dr. Wang will deliver the paper for me.

Leavitt: Thank you very much. Questions please.

Bhardwaj: My first question is how do you get informed consent in rural, illiterate and remote areas of China? My second question is how well is confidentiality protected in China?

Li (Translated by Wang): First in the case of research in a rural area, we ask the permission of the village leader, and then give information about benefits and risks involved. The leader explains to them, the purposes.

Bhardwaj: Is it recorded?

Wang: No, we can't do that in China. Just by word.

Bhardwaj: Oral consent. As for the second question?

Wang: On the forms the identities of persons are protected using number codes.

Doering: I am from Bochum University in Germany. My question is related to Minakshi's question. In the guidelines, the protection of informed consent is strongly emphasized. On the other hand, in actual clinical trials, procedures for informed consent are notoriously not being followed. What kinds of measures do you suggest in order to address this issue?

Li (Translated by Wang): This issue is very difficult now. We have no way now to achieve in fine detail. We can discuss with the government and urge them to implement the ethical principles in practice but it is difficult still to put it into practice.

Leavitt: Thank you. The next speaker is Mr. Zhang who will talk about gene therapy and Confucian ethics. Are there any questions?

Macer: I agree with your conclusion. But I want to know, what would the Taoist approach to germ-line gene therapy be? In Chinese people's minds, which is more dominant in attitude, Taoism or Confucian thinking when we approach technology. This also relates to research that Dena Hsin and I are doing.

Zhang: I think Confucian thought maybe the dominant way of thinking for the past 2000 years. But I can't give you a clear answer about your question on whether Taoist or Confucian thought is dominant.

Hamano: I'm from Japan. I don't agree with your comment about "playing God". I don't think it means any kind of intervention in any natural process. I think it means human beings intervening in very complicated processes with possible great harm. I think your argument about "playing God" is not really what I understand you said was the concept of "playing God".

Zhang: Maybe we could define "playing God" most casually. It could be the misuse of new technology.

Hwang Sang-Ik: Thank you to everyone. It's time for lunch.

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Eubios Ethics Institute | Book List | TOP - Asian Bioethics in the 21st Century