THE German parliament this week passed legislation designed to prevent genetic research involving human embryos.
During the debate in the Bundestag in Bonn, which came at the end of a five year build-up to the final vote in the chamber, justice minister Hans Engelhard described the law as ending "the abusive manipulation of living beings and the spectre of the cultivation of humans".
The new law forbids laboratory work involving the use of embryos for research into genetics, and the transfer of genes to produce humans of identical make up. It was supported by the opposition Social Democrats, but opposed by the Green Party which feared the bill left too much leeway for future abuse.
The passage of the bill was welcomed in the United Kingdom by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. The society said that Germany had learned "the lessons of Nazi history" where Britain had not. Current legislation in the UK allows for experimentation during the first 14 days after fertilisation.
Bonn has also laid down that the sex of an unborn child may not be determined by artificial testing, unless there is a risk of severe genetic handicap.