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Bishops' researcher slams commercial focus of cloning research

The Australian Bishops' research officer Dr Warwick Neville highlighted "troubling conflicts of interest" and the "commercial focus of research groups" in a submission to a Senate Committee last week.

Last Thursday, the Australian Catholic Bishops conference, together with the Queensland Bioethics Institute, Catholic Women's league and Catholic Health Australia appeared before the Senate Community Affairs Committee.

Dr Neville warned that commercially-based research inevitably assigns a higher priority to profit than ethics. He said that while the Biotechnology Centre of Excellence has a certain purity of intention, the basis for research is tainted by commercial motives and therefore "flawed".

He spoke of evidence of corporations with vested interests suppressing the publication of research finds not in their interests. He cited a case in the UK where a hospital which tested a patient for cystic fibrosis was asked to pay royalties because a private company held the patent on the gene.

Another concerning aspect of commercially based research is that "patent law is centred on economic or market values and has difficulty dealing with ethical and social issue" this may well lead to "unfortunate results".

The Bishops Conference yesterday released a summary of submissions to the Committee, which include contributions from Ray Campbell of the Queensland Bioethics Institute, Francis Sullivan of Catholic Health Australia and Mary Ulhmann of the Catholic Women's League Australia.

The overwhelming majority of submissions made to the Committee are opposed to the Research Involving Embryos Bill 2002. The Senate Committee is due to report by 24 October. The Senate will consider the report and debate the legislation.

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Inquiry into Research involving Embryos and Prohibition of Human Cloning Bill 2002 (Senate)
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference | General Secretariat

4 Oct 2002