11/22/2005, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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Eggs for embryo research "bought and paid for in cash"

The acquisition of 16 human eggs for Prof. Hwang's stem cell research was made "before the publication of ethical guidelines". A collaborator claims the doctor was "completely unaware".

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A South Korean hospital yesterday admitted it paid cash for human eggs which "cloning pioneer", Hwang Woo-suk, used in his research. The payment for the ova was made between the end of 2002 and the beginning of 2003, before South Korea issued ethical guidelines which ban commercial transactions in human cells from the start of 2005.

The hospital bought 16 eggs and donated them for Dr Hwang's research purposes; his team stands charged with "unethical practices" in the course of its research on embryos.

Some 1.5 million won (,400) was paid to each of those 16 egg donors in compensation," said Roh Sung-il, chief of MizMedi Hospital.

Dr Roh, who specializes in infertility treatment, held that Hwang was not aware about the payment. "I decided to do it alone without consultations with him in order to help him treat incurable diseases."

Roh said it would be unfair to punish him for an act carried out before the relevant guidelines were published.

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