Stem cell law is considered a major impediment to the progress of modern medicine. Additionally, the use of human stem cells in treatments raises controversy in some countries, some view it as unethical. But is using stem cells for research purposes really a bad thing? Let’s take a look at some of the rules and policies around the world about stem cells.
Stem Cell Laws, Legal Policies, And Rules Per Country
Chile supports the use of stem cells as long as it is for scientific research and therapeutic diagnosis. However, its government draws the line with regard to cloning. According to a 2006 law, the country does not allow any cloning of humans using stem cells “regardless of the purpose sought and the technique used.” Moreover, Chile does not permit the destruction of human embryos for the purpose of obtaining the stem cells.
2. South Africa
The country’s National Department of Health provides a set of ethics guidelines for health research. The guidelines require that all health research, including the study on stem cells, must get approval from an accredited and registered research ethics committee. Also, the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act insists that some types of stem cell therapy undergo safety and quality tests and then get registered before they are used. However, enforcement is a problem and practitioners rarely comply.
The Guiding Principles is a set of policies supposedly governing the use of human embryonic stem cells. The policies, of which enforcement is entrusted to the government’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the Ministry of Health, are vague and lack mechanisms to enforce it. On the other hand, MOST, through its funding committees, ensures the proposed projects it supports comply with the Guiding Principles.
The Guidelines for Derivation and Utilization of Human Embryonic Stem Cells was set up to monitor stem cell use in projects. Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology is responsible for enforcing and implementing such guidelines. However, some stem cell projects were hampered due to the structural regulations. The Council for Science and Technology Policy has since relaxed those regulations and allowed stem cell research for therapeutic purposes.
The country’s National Embryonic Stem Cell Registry houses all human embryonic stem cell lines to ensure any research will not involve in the creation or commercial sourcing of embryonic stem cells. Moreover, Canada has a set of well-defined, enforceable guidelines when it comes to using stem cell research. The Updated Guidelines for Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research only allows the use of stem cells for research if:
- there was free and informed consent given by the donor;
- if the donor is willing to donate the stem cells unrestrictedly for research
- the stem cells were not obtained commercially.
In 1992, Denmark had banned all cloning with the Act on a Scientific Ethical Committee System and the Handling of Biomedical Research Projects. The Act on Medically Assisted Procreation in Connection with Medical Treatment, Diagnosis, and Research ensures stem cell research involving embryonic stem cells is regulated. In 2003, it was relaxed on research projects that use spare IVF embryos.
7. United States
Stem cell research is not banned in the United States, but there are restrictions when it comes to using stem cells and securing funding. A 2001 bill signed into law by former president George W. Bush limited the number of stem cell lines. In addition, states like Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, North and South Dakota prohibited the creation and destruction of human embryos for research purposes. On the other hand, California voters supported Proposition 71, a billion-dollar state, taxpayer-funded institute established for stem cell research.
Watch Joe Rogan and Mel Gibson discuss the legality of stem cell therapy in the US below:
What do you think about these stem cell laws across the globe? Share us your thoughts in the comments section below!