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Britain-Embryos Web

Embryo research approved

British lawmakers voted Monday to approve controversial plans to allow the use of animal-human embryos for research.

The proposed laws, the first major review of embryo science in Britain for almost 20 years, have provoked stormy debate — pitting Prime Minister Gordon Brown and scientists against religious leaders, anti-abortion campaigners and a large number of lawmakers.

Brown has said he believes scientists seeking to use mixed animal-human embryos for stem cell research into diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are on a moral mission to improve — and save — millions of lives.

The process involves injecting an empty cow or rabbit egg with human DNA. A burst of electricity is then used to trick the egg into dividing regularly, so that it becomes a very early embryo, from which stem cells can be extracted.

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Scientists say the embryos would not be allowed to develop for more than 14 days, and are intended to address the shortage of human embryos available for research.

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