Brazilian bishops call for protection of human embryos

The Pastoral Committee of the Bishops Conference of Brazil published a statement this week calling on legislators to protect the life of human embryos and reject a proposed law that would allow them to be used for research.

Referring to the bill that deals with both genetically modified foods and research on human embryos, the bishops recalled that advances in science “demand responsible reflection upon the ethical conflicts which can arise in the field of science.”

They point out that in a country which suffers from “social development problems” such as hunger and common diseases, “it is unacceptable that two important issues of national interest” be considered together.

“Both the issue of genetic modification and that of human embryos demand scientific knowledge in order to evaluate their ethical implications.  Voting simultaneously on genetically modified foods and human embryos” is an “unacceptable” way of handing such important issues.

“Regarding the use of human embryos, society has already learned that research with embryonic stem cells is full of ethical interpretations and scientific uncertainties,” they said.

The bishops called on lawmakers “to evaluate extensively the different scientific and technological perspectives as well as the ethical implications, so that we can have the assurance that decisions that are taken are sufficiently mature for society and for the scientific community, and oriented towards the ethical values which are proper to our society.”

Likewise they said it would be more appropriate “to separate the current bill into two, making it possible for each issue to be considered on its own and in greater depth.”

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