March 1996 – The United Kingdom’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the main government agency responsible for licensing U.K. embryo research, issues its first license for human embryonic stem cell research to the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Stem Cell Research.
February 1997 – Ian Wilmut and other scientists from Scotland’s Roslin Institute announce the creation of the sheep Dolly, the world’s first successful clone of an adult mammal.
March 1997 – Don P. Wolf and a team of researchers at the federally-funded Oregon National Primate Research Center announce that they have produced rhesus monkeys from cloned embryos, the first successful use of cloning-related technology in primates.
March 1997 – Citing the technology used to create Dolly as raising “profound ethical issues,” President Clinton prohibits the allocation of federal funds for human cloning.
June 1997 – The Group of Eight, consisting of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom, adopts a resolution agreeing on “the need for appropriate domestic measures and close international cooperation to prohibit the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer to create a child.”
November 1997 – UNESCO adopts the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights. Article 11 specifically prohibits the reproductive cloning of human beings.
January 1998 – Physicist Richard Seed announces he has formed a team to attempt human cloning before the advent of legislation banning the technology.
January 1998 – The Council of Europe amends its Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine to prohibit reproductive and therapeutic cloning of human beings. To date, the revised convention has been ratified and implemented by 14 countries.
January 1998 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration claims authority to regulate, and pre-approve, experiments involving human cloning in the United States.
June 1998 – Michigan becomes the first state to enact a law prohibiting human cloning.
November 1998 – Two separate teams of scientists, one led by James A. Thomson of the University of Wisconsin and Joseph Itskovitz-Eldor of Israel’s Rambam Medical Center, the other by John D. Gearhart of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, announce that they have successfully isolated human embryonic stem cells for the first time.
November and December 1998 – In claims greeted with skepticism, researchers at Advanced Cell Technology in Massachusetts and Kyunghee University Hospital in South Korea separately announce the successful creation of the first cloned human embryos. Neither organization has ever provided proof to verify their claims.
November 2000 – Japan becomes the first Asian country to pass comprehensive legislation outlawing human reproductive cloning.
January 2001 – Italian fertility specialist Severino Antinori and U.S. scientist Panayiotis Zavos provoke world-wide condemnation following the announcement of their goal to be the first scientists to clone a human being.
January 2001 – Gerald P. Schatten and a team of researchers at the federally-funded Oregon National Primate Research Center create a rhesus monkey named “ANDi,” the world’s first genetically altered primate.
July 2001 – The U.S. House of Representatives passes the Human Cloning Prohibition Act to outlaw both reproductive and therapeutic cloning, but the bill dies in the Senate, the closest any national ban has yet come to enactment in America.
August 2001 – President Bush restricts federally funded human embryonic stem cell research to existing stem cell lines. The announcement receives criticism both from pro-life advocates opposed to any use of human embryos and from health and research advocates who claim that it will severely limit the development of treatments for various diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and juvenile diabetes.
November 2001 – Scientists at Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology announce that they have successfully created human embryos using the process of somatic cell nuclear transfer.
December 2001 – Britain passes the Human Reproductive Cloning Act, outlawing reproductive cloning.
December 2001 – The United Nations General Assembly passes a resolution creating a committee to address the issues of reproductive and therapeutic cloning.
March 2002 – An article published in the Wall Street Journal details various advances in human cloning research being carried out in China. Chinese scientists, led by Lu Guangxiu of Xiangya Medical College, have been successfully cloning human embryos for two years while Sheng Huizen of Shanghai No. 2 Medical University has created embryonic stem cells from human-animal hybrids.
September 2002 – California becomes the first state to approve a law legalizing therapeutic cloning.
October 2003 – Both Costa Rica and Belgium introduce competing resolutions addressing cloning in a United Nations committee. The Costa Rican resolution, backed by the United States and 43 other countries, calls for an international treaty banning all cloning while the resolution sponsored by Belgium and 13 other countries seeks a treaty that would allow for the possibility of cloning for research. In December, the General Assembly moved to address the issue in its Autumn 2004 session.
December 2003 – Clonaid, the biotechnology company founded by the leader of the Raelian religious movement, announces the birth of its first successful clone, a girl, Eve, but provides no proof to substantiate its claims.
January 2004 – China and South Korea each adopt regulations that would ban reproductive cloning but would permit human embryo cloning for research.
February 2004 – Veterinary professor Hwang Woo-suk of Seoul National University in South Korea and a team of researchers announce that they have succeeded in cloning human embryos and extracting stem cells from them.
May 2004 – Singapore unveils a draft law that would allow embryo cloning for research but would ban attempts at reproductive cloning, providing a maximum possible penalty of five years imprisonment and a fine of S$100,000.
May 2004 – The world’s first embryonic stem cell bank opens in Britain. The government’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority also announces that a developer of one of the bank’s stem cell lines, the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, has filed the first-ever application for permission to conduct therapeutic cloning research. The HFEA has yet to issue a license for therapeutic cloning.
Alexander Cohen put together this timeline.
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