WASHINGTON - The national debate over cloning, at least as it is reflected in public testimony and in discussions among members of the National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC) and lawmakers in Congress, seems to be leading to a consensus on at least one fundamental issue - that scientific advances based on cloning should not be hindered when they do not violate commonly held moral and ethical standards

Based on two days of hearings by the NBAC and a separate hearing by a U.S. Senate panel last week, there appears to be widespread appreciation of the potential value of cloning research and a recognition that whatever limits or restrictions government imposes must be designed so they do not prevent breakthroughs in medicine, agriculture and other fields.