Stem Cell Laws

Legal status of stem cells from country to country

Here we will cover the legal status of stem cells in various countries. Generally speaking, the use of adults stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells for research and therapeutic purposes is allowed in all countries. However the same doesn't apply for embryonic stem cells. The main reason being, that human embryonic stem cells require the destruction of a blastocyst (early stage embryo).

South Africa law prohibits  reproductive cloning but allows embryonic cloning for research and therapeutic purposes.


In China, reproductive cloning is strictly prohibited, however embryonic cloning is allowed for research and therapeutic purposes. The same applies for India, South Korea, Japan and Israel.

In Singapore the use of  human embryonic stem cells is allowed as long as that they are no more than two weeks old, for therapeutic and research purposes.

The religious officials of Saudi Arabia have issued a decree that sanctions the use of embryos for therapeutic and research purposes

Iran probably has the most liberal laws on hESCs throughout the world, as their use is allowed for all purposes including cloning!

Europe and European
As of today, the European Union hasn't issued any consistent regulations regarding stem cell uses for research or therapeutic purposes in its member states. Regardless, the use of embryonic stem cells for research and therapeutic purposes is allowed in the following countries:
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Netherlands

Laws of Belgium allow the use of embryonic stem cells for research purposes and the country even has the legal basis to support embryonic creation for therapeutic purposes. Embryo cloning for reproductive purposes is strictly prohibited.

French legislation clearly prohibits embryonic cloning, both for research and reproduction, but since 2009 it does allow the use of stored surplus embryos for research purposes.

Sweden laws prohibit reproductive embryo cloning, but do allow cloning for research and therapeutic purposes.

Italian legislation forbids all sperm or egg donations as well as the freezing of embryos, but allows using existing stem cell lines that have been imported from other countries for research purposes.

In the United Kingdom, the legislation allows the destruction of embryos for extracting human embryonic stem cells, only for one of the following reasons:
  • For increasing the knowledge on the development of embryos,
  • For increasing knowledge on serious diseases, like Alzheimer or Parkinson
  • To increase knowledge on applying developing treatments for serious diseases.

Brazilian legislation allows the use of surplus embryos, stored for more than 3 years, for stem cell research

Canadian law prohibits the creation of embryos for any reason. However it does allow the use of discarded embryos from in vitro fertilisation clinics. The embryos should meet the following criteria:
  • They must have been originally created for reproductive purposes.
  • A free and informed consent must be first given, from the people for whom the embryos were originally created for.
  • The embryo, ova and sperm must not have been obtained through commercial transactions

Mexico has yet to implement formal regulations regarding the use of stem cells. As a result Mexico has a thriving, but unrelegulated and questionable, stem cell industry.

Australia allows the use of human embryonic stem cells for research and therapeutic purposes, reproductive cloning is strictly prohibited.

In New Zealand legislation only allows embryonic stem cell research from imported stem cells

United States of America
Legislation of stem cells in the USA is quite complicated and also differs from state to state. We advise you to have a look over wikipedia's article for thorough information

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