Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

STEM CELLS, GENE THERAPY AND CLONING

Adopted by the Board of Trustees
Central Conference of American Rabbi
March 30, 2003

NOTE: The Resolutions Committee notes that the CCAR Committee on Responsa has issued a responsum on the subject of Stem Cell Research, number 5761.7. This responsum is available on the CCAR web site.

Background4

In April 2002, the Religious Action Center hosted an informative conference for members of the Commission on Social Action and the UAHC Department of Family Concerns, in an attempt to start to address our policy-void in the areas of stem cell research, gene therapy, and cloning.

Consistent with the values of Reform Judaism, and recommendations of that working group, the Commission on Social Action voiced its support in the following areas:

Supports research using both adult and embryonic stem cells, not limited to the existing lines currently approved for funding by the Administration;

Supports research and funding of somatic gene therapy. Each individual can assess the risks and benefits for him or herself and make an informed decision. Support for somatic gene therapy should not be confused with or construed as support for germ line gene therapy, which poses serious medical and moral concerns;

Supports therapeutic cloning; and Opposes reproductive cloning.

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, that the Central Conference of American Rabbis endorses the above positions, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR work with the Department of Jewish Family Concerns of the UAHC to develop further policies and guidelines in this area for the Reform Jewish Movement, consistent with Reform Jewish values.


4 Gene therapy can be targeted to somatic (body) or germ (egg and sperm) cells. In somatic gene therapy the recipient's genome is changed, but the change is not passed along to the next generation. In germ line gene therapy, the parent's egg or sperm cells are changed with the goal of passing on the changes to their offspring. Germ line gene therapy is not being actively investigated, at least in larger animals and humans, although a lot of discussion is being conducted about its value and desirability. An excellent web site on the Human Genome Project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, Human Genome Program, at www.ornl.gov/hgmis/.