SYDNEY—Australia's recent support for a total cloning ban at the United Nations (UN) has left researchers in the country surprised and concerned, particularly in light of an upcoming parliamentary review of embryo research legislation.

The UN has been attempting to formulate a resolution on cloning for years, with member nations divided between a proposal that would ban all forms of cloning and an alternative that would not forbid cell nuclear replacement for stem cell generation.

In previous debates, Australia had supported the second option, put forward by Belgium and supported by the United Kingdom and others, but at the latest General Assembly in New York, it offered its support to the stricter draft, proposed by Costa Rica and supported by the United States and about 60 other countries.

By the end of this year's meeting, the UN committee considering the declaration had moved beyond either proposal—deciding to shift its...

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