Hong Kong should reconsider the pros and cons of cloning, now banned, in light of rapid scientific advances, academics said yesterday. 'The law hinders the progress of reproductive medicine research in Hong Kong,' Associate Professor William Yeung Shu-biu, of the University of Hong Kong's reproductive medicine division, said. Professor Yeung said cloning should not have been banned in the SAR and that it would have been better to regulate it. He said the law did not appear to be able to keep up with technology and that fears of cloning being used by some 'crazy scientist' in Hong Kong had clouded the debate. 'I don't think they have considered the future development of medical reproductive technologies,' he said. Another academic, Professor Paul Tam Kwong-hang, who is Associate Dean of Research Affairs at the University of Hong Kong's faculty of medicine, said it was not surprising scientists had been able to clone a human embryo. 'We saw it coming. As I have said before, the technology is possible. It is a matter of what we should do with it and how we go about it,' he said. Professor Tam said most people, including scientists, would agree that cloning should not be used to grow human beings. 'But the issue of whether the cloning technique is used to produce organs for therapy is more debatable. There is no final consensus,' he said. 'It raises ethical issues and the question is where do we draw the line?' Professor Tam said cloning should be regulated, as 'a safeguard' against 'cowboy experiments'. 'But the field is changing rapidly. We will have to respond to advances. At the moment the law covers what we are doing and what we need to do in the next couple of years, not beyond that,' he said. Cloning is banned under the Human Reproductive Technology Ordinance enacted in June last year. Its subsidiary legislation to give teeth to the law has yet to be passed.