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A reservation was submitted to the bill banning genetic intervention * will again be limited to five years

"There is no need to be a professor of bioethics to formulate a position against cloning" claims the chair of the Knesset's science committee, protesting the criticism against her decision * left an opening for the ministers to change the law and indeed they responded quickly

The Minister of Health, Dani Neve and the Minister of Science and Technology Eliezer (Modi) Zandberg submitted a reservation to the bill prohibiting genetic intervention (human cloning and genetic modification of reproductive cells). According to the reservation, the law will be valid for 5 years.

Last week, the Science and Technology Committee of the Knesset approved the law for a second and third reading, however, contrary to the opinion of the government and the opinion of experts, it determined that the law will be permanent and will not be renewed every 5 years in accordance with scientific, technological and social changes.

Minister Zandberg said that the issue should be examined by the National Bioethics Council, which will formulate its position by the day the proposed law expires in 2009, and that the ban will be limited at that time due to the rapid pace of scientific and technological developments, which causes the dynamics of changes in social, ethical and legal positions. An example from the recent past is the change in the social and legal positions on the issue of in vitro fertilization, "It is not appropriate that the prohibition in the law be permanent, the decision of the chairman of the science committee contradicts the position of the research institutions and scientists in Israel" added Minister Zandberg.

MK Mali Polishuk-Bloch: My decision did not harm scientific research


On the day after the drama surrounding her vote, when with her own voice a law was passed in the science committee that prevents cloning forever, MK Mali Polishuk-Bloch does not agree to the criticism leveled at her from all over the scientific establishment. As a reminder, on Tuesday MK Polishok-Bloch voted alone and in the absence of all the other 14 members of the Science Committee, on making the ban on carrying out cloning operations in Israel permanent. This is contrary to the opinion of most of the experts who participated in three discussions that the committee devoted to the subject.

In a conversation with the "Hidan" website, Bloch accepts the behavior of the scientists who disturbed everyone who argued the opposite argument, and now also come out against her, according to her, in the media.

Why not clone, if all scientists think it is a legitimate way to solve fertility problems?

MK Polishuk-Bloch: "There is no doubt that there is a beautiful expression that a person is the pattern of the landscape of his homeland, but there is also no doubt that heredity affects the person. In his character, in his features. But that's not what the debate is about. There were two big questions. One is whether the law interferes in any way with medical research - stops, spoils, blocks, and we actually checked every word with tweezers and a microscope so that somehow it would not harm medical research. All the researchers as well as those who appeared on the committee agree that there is not even the slightest harm to medical research. The law does not interfere either with stem cell research or with all genetic methods of healing. The question was only for cloning for reproductive purposes, do we want to produce children using the technique of cloning, not the natural way. There was no dispute that as of today it should be banned, including (Prof. Michel) Rebel and the chairman of the Helsinki Committee. Everyone who was present at the yeshiva was unanimous that as of today, cloning for reproductive purposes should be prohibited."

Where does the controversy begin?

"Here comes the second question. There are those who believe that it is desirable and appropriate and possible to allow the "production" of children by cloning in ideology. They believe it. There is no reason that if a couple wants to have children in his image, please. I am one of those who think that we should not allow children to be produced in our image.:

And if one of the couple is barren?

"You are talking about a technique of having children and for that there are different techniques of procreation such as test tube. Cloning is no longer a technique but the creation of a person in your image according to features you determine in a moving film of a factory. Not to take what nature has created by fertilizing an egg with a sperm and coming out of it according to the properties of the egg and the sperm. We are not talking about artificial insemination techniques. I see before my eyes the legions of identical people that someone wants to produce. It is true that this is only a theory but one day it will be possible, and since not every person is good by nature and there will be those who will use it for bad purposes, I do not want to allow it. "

They argued against you that your professional training is not in the field and therefore the decision is emotional?

It's a moral-value matter and it doesn't matter what your level of knowledge is and I feel myself equal to any professor of bioethics, genetics, engineering or medicine. This moral and ethical matter does not belong to the level of knowledge at all, but to your faith, your conscience, your ideas, and even if it is an uneducated person or who is far from medicine at all, he has the right to have an opinion. His opinion and his belief is just as good as the professor of bioethics who appeared before the committee. It is true that I faced several professors, but their morals are no better or worse than mine. It is also not true to say that I was alone in this opinion because there were other people there with the same opinion, some of them also professors, some of them also lawyers (representative of the Bar Association). There is an institution in the Knesset called the Commissioner for Future Generations - Judge Shlomo Shoham, whose representative, Attorney Nira Lamai, announced that his opinion is that it should be a permanent law, MK Ofir Pines, a member of the Knesset, announced, although he left before the vote because of another commitment in the Knesset, he said that he was of my opinion according to which a permanent ban must be enacted. MK Dhamsha was not at the yeshiva but told me that he is also in favor of a permanent ban, so this is not my sole opinion. At the same time, I also told them specifically, you have the option to tell the minister to submit a reservation to the committee's decision and the Knesset plenum where there are elected officials will decide.

And what is the balance of power there?

"The members of the Knesset that I asked - some have this opinion and some have another opinion, the forces are balanced according to what I saw. When it gets to the second and third reading it will be decided. Nor should we exaggerate the importance of the matter - permanent or non-permanent law because any law can be changed. We actually improved the situation so that there would not be contact every five years but every year. We inserted a section into the law that every year the Helsinki committee must submit a report to both the minister and the science committee and there will be a discussion in the committee about this report and every year we will have the same interaction to check the developments of the research. Insertion into the uterus for reproduction is prohibited, but everything else can be done."

"This is exactly the role of the Helsinki Committee, to check every study that reaches its desk. This is a committee that deals with clinical trials on humans in general, not just genetics. During the discussion we saw how many loopholes there are in the Helsinki Committee and the members of the Helsinki Committee said that the law written over 40 years ago, it is not even a law but regulations, is a loophole - incomplete. They have no powers of supervision, control, or monitoring. They can approve a study and have no idea what happened after it."

"The minister will have to establish regulations that will give powers to the Helsinki Committee for supervision, monitoring of all research. To date this has not happened and this is what the members of the committee say themselves who feel that they do not have the powers and tools. They do everything at their own expense and voluntarily. At the same time, we arranged several other systems that are currently working around this issue of genetics. Around this report that will be submitted, a discussion will be held every year according to law. In the last five years since this law was temporarily enacted, there has been no interaction and no report has been submitted, so I think we have improved this lacuna, we have not harmed the research and whoever says that is saying something wrong. Everything we changed, that people complain about is a matter of moral values ​​- if I want them to create human beings."

"I wanted to make an explicit statement - it is always forbidden. I don't want there to be a situation where women can be exploited to produce eggs. That is why we also demanded to establish an authority to regulate the issue of eggs. This is over ten hours of committee discussion and long conversations with experts. I know what I'm talking about, it was not done arbitrarily but out of faith and good intentions. I could not lie in my heart, and any other vote was not according to my conscience."

They claim that such a position is not suitable for a representative of a party with liberal values. What do you think?

The religious are actually in favor. There was a rabbi there, an ultra-Orthodox person, and I was told that this is also the position of most rabbis - they are in favor because they see it as a way to 'prove and rabbi'. And that's exactly what I want to prevent. I am very much in favor of Pro and Rebo, we will even assist this with every possible technique except cloning."

And what about the possibility of preventing the birth of unhealthy children?

"As mentioned, in order to prevent the birth of defective fetuses, there is the possibility of genetic intervention for healing purposes with the approval of the Minister and the Helsinki Committee. We took a very liberal approach. "

In conclusion, Polishuk-Bloch refers again to the scientists who appeared before the committee, and said that "whenever someone expressed a position different from that of the members of the group, you should have seen their behavior, very inappropriate for people of this level. Take the minutes of the yeshiva, take other protocols that I did yeshiva on medical studies. There is no other person as loyal to the benefit of medical research as Meli Polishuk."
The scientist of human cloning

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