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Toronto, October 29, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Embryonic stem cell therapy requires cloning and for this and other reasons such therapy will be a “rich man’s treatment” which creates a very big industry and huge potential profits. That, says Australian medical doctor, bioethicist and lecturer at the University of New South Wales, Dr. Amin Abboud, is the reason for the big push for embryonic stem cell research and cloning.

LifeSiteNews.com interviewed Dr. Abboud at the office of Campaign Life Coalition in Toronto on September 25, while the doctor was on a one day stopover on his way back to Australia from conferences in Europe. Abboud answered questions on bioethics, embryonic stem research and cloning using simple terminology and examples that could easily be followed by almost anyone.

Abboud said he got involved in the cloning and stem cell debate about two years ago, when he had to speak before Parliament and then write articles in the press in Australia on the topic. LifeSiteNews.com asked him, Why is there such a strong push for embryonic stem cell research?

Dr. Abboud responded, “I don’t know all the brands of cars you have here in Canada but, it’s like saying,‘we’ve got Holdens or we’ve got Fords, why do we need Mazdas?’ Because there’s a market”. He explained that for people who are interested in new markets, embryonic research can offer a new market.

Using another example, Dr. Abboud said, “Because you have some type of analgesic doesn’t stop another company trying to promote another analgesic because they want to get a market share”. He indicated its the same with stem cell research but added, “Adult stem cells will probably work and I think at the end of the day will be the most effective way. I won’t say absolutely but the evidence looks very convincing.”“But it doesn’t stop people with money to say, well maybe embryonic stem cells could work as well and we can make money out of it and this could be a very, very important source of financial revenue.”

The Australian bioethicist related a venture capitalist (makes risky investments for potential large profits) stating in a meeting in Australia, “if someone came to my office tomorrow with a cure for malaria and wanting me to invest in it, I would laugh them out of my office.”

Abboud explained to LifeSiteNews, “Why is that? Because malaria is a poor person’s disease. It’s a disease affecting poor countries and obviously poor people can’t afford to pay for expensive drugs. But he (the venture capitalist) said I will invest in stem cell technology because it’s going to be, and it’s very important to acknowledge this, in the end stem cell therapy will be a rich man’s treatment, especially embryonic stem cell therapy. Why? Because you need to clone. To clone you need eggs, ova.” He added there is a market for Ova and they are costly and “then you need the people who can clone and that’s a very difficult process”, which will also be costly. Then people are needed with the skill to modify stem cells and implant them, etc. and “so it creates a big, new industry”.

Abboud summarized, “We should never forget the financial imperatives in the whole cloning and stem cell debate and that’s why there’s a very big push for embryonic stem cell research.”

IVF has been a huge factor in setting off the stem cell and cloning controversy, said Abboud, The huge numbers of unwanted embryonic humans left over from decades of IVF created an “ethical nightmare” he said, and along with the first cloning discoveries, set off the demands by scientists for embryonic experimentation and advanced cloning.

Abboud emphasizes that with all these humans in cold storage from IVF “we have to look for solutions that treat them with respect” and that “although there are likely not many solutions”, he says, “we have to discover them.”

However, he warns, “we cannot say, oh well, they’re going to die anyway, let’s experiment on them. This is one of the first times in human history where we’ve used human guinea pigs. I think apart from certain other periods, like the period of Nazi occupation and other similar periods, we have never experienced other periods where we’ve used human guinea pigs like this and one prominent scientist in Australia, speaking before the Senate Committee said that.”“Normally”, continued Dr. Abboud, “the process is you start with animal models and then you test it out on humans. But here, with embryonic research we’re going straight into human research, which is a bizarre step but it reflects how, in our society, the dignity of the human embryo has dropped right down. Really, that’s why we have the embryo debate right now and that’s why we have the cloning debate. It’s all about people who have lost the dignity of the human embryo, have specific vested interests, large finances and are trying to take advantage of that situation.”

Dr Amin Abboud is an assistant lecturer in medical ethics and health law at the University of New South Wales and a coordinator of Australasian Bioethics Information, a bioethical group for doctors and lawyers.

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