A federal body to regulate genetic and reproductive technologies is likely to be established in Canada this autumn. The federal Health Minister, Allan Rock, will table legislation to set up a licensing authority and to prohibit the same practices that an earlier bill attempted to outlaw in 1996.
The 1996 bill, known as C-47, died when an election was called the following year. The C-47 bill, which contained heavy penalties for infringement of various criminalised practices, was severely criticised at the time by doctors, ethicists and lawyers for not being flexible enough to regulate the everyday provision of new reproductive technologies.
Although no final decisions have been made, it is expected that Mr Rock's bill will propose to outlaw human cloning, payment to surrogate mothers, germ-line gene therapy, the creation of embryos for research purposes, payment to gamete donors, and various other practices.
Like the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in the UK, the new regulatory body will issue licenses to centres offering fertility treatment and to scientists carrying out human embryo research, it is expected to have broad powers to revoke licenses from establishments that fall foul of the rules.