By Joe Jenkins FURIOUS row was brewing Us week as a leading pro-life harity called for a boycott of upermarket giant Sainsbury's. The row was sparked when cience minister Lord Sainsjury backed the farming of Luman clones for medical esearch during a fringe meetng at the Labour Conference n Bournemouth.
The charity, Life, dubbed his :onunents "morally offensive" ind "foolish". It claimed that liS support for cloning to noduce human tissue for :esearch would lead to the 'cannibalisation" of embryos ind profit pharmaceutical :ompanies.
Lord Sainsbury is a sharewider in the supermarket :thain, founded by his family, Ind is paid through a "blind iust". He has no direct input in he day-to-day running of the ompany. A supermarket ;pokesman said: "Anything te's doing now with the Jovernment is completely inrelated to us."
But Life asserts that pro-life ;upporters should make known their distaste at his comments oy hitting his pocket.
At the Bournemouth meeting, hosted by the Bio Industry Association, Lord Sainsbury shared a platform with Simon Best, managing director of Geron Bio-Med, which runs Edinburgh's Roslin Institute, which cloned Dolly the sheep.
He said that any change in the law to allow therapeutic cloning would offer "a chance" to tackle .diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
'The Government's committee on genetics has recommended such a change and we are considering it very carefully, but personally I can see huge possibilities for this kind of biotechnology to combat the quality-of-life problems associated With such illnesses."
Life's research director Peter Garrett said: "Lord Sainsbury's support for 'limited' human cloning is both morally offensive and foolish.
"The proposed use of cloned human embryos as life-saving tissue generators involves deliberately creating twin and triplet copies of sick patients so that they can be cannibalised for spare parts and destroyed.
"Such a process is the ultimate violation of the important ethical principle that indi"Viduals should never be used as means to the ends of others. The end does not justify the means, however good the end."
Mr Garrett warned that if the moratorium on therapeutic cloning was lifted, reproductive cloning could follow. "If you try to separate the two types of cloning you find that you can't. It's uncomfortable for the Government to have the two to contend with."
Lord Sainsbury's office said: "The Government is opposed to human reproductive cloning and in June reaffirmed its policy that it is ethically unacceptable.
"As part of the Government's response to the joint report on cloning by the HFEA and the HGAC, the Government believed that more evidence was required on the potential benefits of therapeutic cloning techniques which is why the independent expert advisory group was set up. They will report their findings to Ministers and will make their response in due course.
"At the Labour party Conference Lord Sainsbury discussed the possibilities of therapeutic cloning stating that Ministers will consider the genetics committee recommendations carefully."