Saudi Arabia South Africa Tunisia

We were unable to locate any primary source material to document the policy of Iran . However, based on the two publications below, there is evidence that Iran allows the derivation of new embryonic stem cell lines from supernumerary IVF embryos.

H. Baharvand, et al. Establishment and in vitro differentiation of a new embryonic stem cell line from human blastocyst. Differentiation 2004 June; 72(5); 224-229.

C. Dabu. Stem-cell science stirs debate in Muslim world, too. The Christian Science Monitor, 22 June 2005. Retrieved December 14, 2005


Prohibition of Genetic Intervention (Human Cloning and Genetic Manipulation of Reproductive Cells) Law, 5759-1999
Section 2 (Definitions):
Human Cloning- Human Reproductive Cloning is any of the following:
        (1) The creation of a human embryo by means of transferring the nucleus from a somatic cell into         an ovum or a fertilized ovum from which the nucleus has been extracted (in this law-a cloned         embryo), in order to create a person who is genetically and chromosomally identical to another         person or fetus,living or dead;
        (2) the insertion of a cloned embryo into the uterus of a woman or another womb or body.
Section 3 (Prohibited Actions):
Throughout the period during which this Law is in force, no person shall perform any of the following acts:
        (1) Human Cloning-human reproductive cloning;
        (2) Using reproductive cells that have undergone a permanent intentional genetic modification         (Germ Line Gene Therapy) in order to cause the creation of a person.
Section 4: The advisory committee-
        - Shall follow developments in medicine, science, biotechnology, bioethics and law in the field of         genetic experimentation on human beings in Israel and abroad;
        - Shall submit to the Minister and to the science and technology committee of the Knesset an         annual report, on the exercise of its powers and duties according to this law and a summary of         the developments referred to in paragraph (1); the report and summary shall be submitted         annually, no later than March 1;
        - Shall advise the Minister on the matter of genetic experimentation on human beings and shall         provide him with its recommendations concerning the prohibitions set out in section 3.
The minister shall establish regulations concerning the exercise of powers of the Advisory committee according to this law; such regulations shall also include powers of supervision and control.

Report of the Bioethics Advisory Committee of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities: The Use of Embryonic Stem Cells for Therapeutic Research (August 2001).
Section 5. Religious Views on the Use of ES Cells for Therapeutic Research
Halachic Conclusions (p.9)
        1. Jewish law does not differentiate between destruction of an in vitro pre-implantation embryo         and its use for routine scientific research. Unless done for the purpose of saving life, both are         forbidden as long as the embryo’s potential for implantation exists…
        4. The creation of an embryo for such research purposes is prohibited. Nevertheless, the         creation of in vitro pre-implantation embryos for research should be allowed if it is probably that         this research will help to save human  life. This includes creating embryos by the cloning         technology.
        “The Ministry of Health has established a Helsinki Committee for Genetics to examine case by         case, and approve or reject applications for genetic research projects involving human beings,         including research on pre-implantation embryos. The present report and the following         recommendations are aimed at providing the Guidelines for the work of this committee.” (p. 19)
        Section 8. Recommendations on Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Israel
        5. Within the framework of IVF treatments, it will be permissible to donate supernumerary         embryos that are no longer destined to implantation, and this specifically for the purpose of         therapeutic research…
        10. Although ethically debatable, the Committee considers it ethically permissible to experiment         with new in vitro technologies to produce ES cells, such as reprogramming somatic cell nuclei by         transfer into enucleated oocytes (so-called therapeutic cloning, without reproductive purposes).         The renucleated oocyte is then cultured without implantation until the blastocyst stage when stem         cells are derived from the inner cell mass.

Note – “According to ‘public health regulation’ (not a law) egg donations from volunteers are not allowed in Israel . Egg donations for infertile women are allowed only from women undergoing IVF. Under this regulation egg donations are allowed in cases of infertility, and there is no mention of research purposes. The current interpretation of this regulation is that left-over blastocysts do not fall under this regulation, and thus surplus blastocysts can be used for research. There are discussions on the need to modify this regulation in the future.” (Personal correspondence with Dr. Nissim Benvenisty, 4 February 2006 )


 Saudi Arabia

The 2003 fatwa (edict) issued in Saudi Arabia by the Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) Council of the Muslim World League. This fatwa provides the religious framework for stem cell research in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

"It is permissible to obtain, grow and use stem cells for therapeutic or permissible scientific research purposes if obtained from a permissible source, including:

  • Adults, provided they give permission to do so and if no harm comes to them as a result
  • Children, if their parents give permission to do so for a permissible reason and if no harm comes to them as a result
  • The placenta or umbilical cord with the permission of the parents
  • Embryos or fetuses that have been miscarried of their own accord or aborted for therapeutic reasons allowed by the sharia and with the permission of the parents
  • Leftover fertilized embryos from in vitro fertilization that are donated by the parents. It must be remembered that these cannot be used for impermissible pregnancies

It is impermissible to obtain and use stem cells if taken from impermissible sources, which include:

  • Fetuses that are aborted willfully and without a medical reason permitted by sharia
  • Willful fertilization of a donated ovum and sperm
  • Therapeutic cloning"

Translated from the Arabic by Nadia El-Awady

Original in Arabic

South Africa
National Health Bill
Prohibition of reproductive cloning of human beings
57. (1) A person may not—
(a) manipulate any genetic material, including genetic material of human
gametes, zygotes or embryos; or
(b) engage in any activity, including nuclear transfer or embryo splitting,
for the purpose of the reproductive cloning of a human being.
(2) The Minister may, under such conditions as may be prescribed, permit therapeutic
cloning utilising adult or umbilical cord stem cells.
(3) No person may import or export human zygotes or embryos without the prior
written approval of the Minister.
(4) The Minister may permit research on stem cells and zygotes which are not more
than 14 days old on a written application and if—
(a) the applicant undertakes to document the research for record purposes; and
(b) prior consent is obtained from the donor of such stem cells or zygotes.
(5) Any person who contravenes a provision of this section or who fails to comply
therewith is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment
for a period not exceeding five years or to both a fine and such imprisonment.
(6) For the purpose of this section—
(a) ‘‘reproductive cloning of a human being’’ means the manipulation of genetic
material in order to achieve the reproduction of a human being and includes
nuclear transfer or embryo splitting for such purpose; and
(b) ‘‘therapeutic cloning’’ means the manipulation of genetic material from either
adult, zygotic or embryonic cells in order to alter, for therapeutic purposes, the
function of cells or tissues.


Tebourski F, Ammar-Elgaaied AB. The Developing Country Reaction to Biomedical Techniques and Plant Biotechnology: The Tunisian Experience. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology: 2004; 2004(3): 124-9.
Law 01-93 of August 2001
         Art.9. It is forbidden to get embryos through the fecundation in vitro or other techniques for          study, research or experimentation.
         Art.11. Gametes or embryos could be preserved only for therapeutic purposes to help the          couple to procreate and after a written demand from the couple.
         Art.14. Gamete or embryo donation is forbidden in ART.