BRUSSELS, Belgium - A senior official of the European Union (EU) said the organization may support more worldwide moves to impose regulation on human cloning.

At the February session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, U.K. European Affairs Minister Doug Henderson, who is also President in Office of the EU Council of Ministers, said he and his fellow ministers from the EU's 15 member states would look carefully at any new suggestions from the EU's executive branch, the European Commission, on support for international initiatives towards an international treaty.

Henderson's comments came as he was answering a question raised by Greek Socialist Euro-MP Angela Kokkola, who had urged protection of individuals against the personal interests of opportunist scientists in human cloning.

“The European Council will consider with interest any proposals which the European Commission may make on this subject,“ said Henderson.

Already, he added, the European Commission's current fourth framework program on research contains an explicit provision that no support will be provided to projects which may contravene the European Convention of Human Rights, the Charter of the United Nations or the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.

The EU provisions on biomedical ethics provide that no research into modification of the genetic constitution of human beings or into human cloning may be carried out. And the European Commission's current proposal, for the next research framework program from 1998 to 2002, would extend the scope of this exclusion to assure that the rights and dignity of human beings will continue to be the guiding principle behind all decisions, Henderson said.

That proposal is still under consideration by the European Council. - Peter O'Donnell