Seoul: A South Korean presidential panel today lifted a year-old ban on research into the cloning of human embryonic stem cells, officials said.
The research was banned since early last year after scientist Hwang Woo-Suk was found to have faked part of his work into the cloning of human stem cells.
The National Bioethics Committee voted to allow research into cloned embryonic stem cells on condition that only human eggs due to be destroyed at infertility clinics be used.
“Research into the cloning of embryonic stem cells will be allowed but conditionally,” said Cho Han-Ik, deputy head of the committee.
Of its 19 members, 12 including government representatives and scientists voted to lift the ban. The others, including law experts, a Roman Catholic priest and a female rights activist, objected or abstained.
The committee had originally planned to reach a decision on the issue late November, but delayed a vote due to sharp divisions.
It is unclear whether Hwang would be allowed to resume his controversial research.
The government banned Hwang from research using human eggs after his claims to have created the first human stem cell through cloning were ruled as bogus by Seoul National University in January 2006.
Hwang is now on trial for embezzlement and fake research but has insisted in court that he could still prove he created the first cloned human stem cells.