Human Cloning in Singapore: Emergence of Asian Bioethics?

- Tade Matthias Spranger, Dr. iur., Dr. rer. pol.
Assistant Professor, University of Bonn,
Institute for Public Law (Dept. Administrative Law),
Adenauerallee 24-42, 53113 Bonn, Germany

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 12 (2002), 122.
According to actual press reports, the Singapore government allowed the cloning of human embryos for certain research projects. As Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan announced, the government agreed with the Bioethics Advisory CommitteeLs (BAC) assessment, according to which strong scientific merit, and potential medical benefit from, could justify such research. Consequently, the creation of embryos specifically for research can be justified where, in addition to scientific merit and medical benefit, no acceptable alternative exists, and a highly selective case-by-case basis with specific approval from the proposed statutory body is guaranteed (1). Nevertheless, the BAC stated that there should be a complete ban on the implantation of a human embryo created by the application of cloning technology into a womb, or any treatment of a human embryo intended to result in its development into a viable infant (2).

The new regulation could be seen as the latest step towards the emergence of a specific Asian approach to bioethics. On June 10, 1998 PR ChinaLs Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Public Health published the so-called Interim Measures for the Administration of Human Genetic Resources, which presents a quite liberal framework for the use of HGR. At the end of 2000, the Japanese parliament enacted the Human Cloning Regulation Act, which paves the way even for reproductive human cloning (3). Now, Singapore succeeds. However, all of these regulations conflict with the (legally non-binding) basic principles laid down in UNESCO's Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights of November 11, 1997. So, the recent development raises the question whether Asian countries will manage to undermine the international Phalanx against human cloning and the use of human genetic resources.


(1) Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in Human Stem Cell Research, Reproductive and Therapeutic Cloning, A Report from the Bioethics Advisory Committee Singapore, June 2002, 30.

(2) Supra, at 31.

(3) Cf. Spranger, The Japanese Approach to Regulation of Human Cloning, [2001] 20 Biotechnology Law Report 700.

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