- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 15, 2002

Sen. Sam Brownback wasted no time in pushing the human cloning issue to the Senate floor, offering an amendment to a terrorism insurance bill Thursday night that would prohibit patents from being issued for human life, including cloned human embryos.

"We should not patent the young human at any stage in the life continuum," said Mr. Brownback, Kansas Republican. "Whether it is a clone or a natural human, if you nurture it and it grows into a person, you should not be allowing patenting of this person."

The move to introduce the patent amendment came after Mr. Brownback reached an impasse with Senate Democratic leaders over how to structure floor debate on a larger bill he has sponsored that would have banned the cloning of human embryos for any purpose, including medical research.

Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and co-sponsor of competing cloning legislation that would allow research that uses the human cloning process, yesterday said her group is very close to having the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster and pass the bill.

She said sponsors could reach that goal by next week.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle tried to set aside the Brownback patenting amendment yesterday morning. But Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican and supporter of the amendment, objected on Mr. Brownback's behalf and would not allow it.

Soon afterward, Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, made a motion to close debate and force a final vote on the underlying terrorism insurance bill. The motion will be voted on Tuesday. A Democratic aide said it will pass and the Brownback amendment will subsequently be ruled non-germane.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy took to the Senate floor yesterday to blast the Brownback amendment, saying it would essentially do the same thing as Mr. Brownback's larger cloning ban: Prevent "life-saving" medical research that uses the cloning technique.

"He offers this proposal precisely because he knows that if it is enacted, it will eviscerate this research," Mr. Kennedy said.

Mr. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, pointed out that the amendment would prohibit patents from being issued for the process of human cloning as well. He said the biotechnology industry, which funds most of this research, essentially "runs on patents" and the Brownback amendment would "make sure no biotechnology company would touch it."

Mr. Brownback said that argument was inaccurate.

"It does not stop cloning research from taking place," he said. "It does not stop our scientists from working on the issue. It simply says you can't patent a person."

Mr. Kennedy is a sponsor of the Feinstein bill, which would ban the implantation of a cloned human embryo into a uterus but would allow human embryos to be cloned to extract their stem cells for medical research for up to 14 days after their creation.

Supporters of the Feinstein bill say this research could hold the key to curing many ailments. Some insist the human cloning process does not produce a human embryo because it does not involve sperm.

Supporters of Mr. Brownback's total cloning ban say it is a proven fact that the cloning process does create a human embryo and they insist embryos should not destroyed in the name of research.

Other treatments, such as those derived from adult stem cells, hold much more promise, supporters of the ban say.

They point out that once the human cloning process is allowed, it will be virtually impossible to prevent rogue scientists from implanting the cloned embryos into uteruses to produce cloned infants.

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