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Wednesday, 8 August, 2001, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
US press condemns cloning plans
Dr Severino Antinori and Dr Panos Zavos
Critics have attacked Dr Antinori (left) over his human clone plans
The US media has roundly condemned plans to press ahead with human cloning.

Addressing a meeting of scientific experts in Washington, Dr Panos Zavos, Dr Severino Antinori and Brigitte Boisselier - Scientific Director of Clonaid, 'the world's first human cloning company' - said they would begin the first attempts within 60 days.

"To supporters they probably appeared as the three musketeers," said the Washington Post newspaper.

We are increasingly willing to escape pain and unhappiness at any cost

New York Post
But "judging by the hostile and often horrified reaction, their fellow scientists saw them more like the three witches from Macbeth", the paper added.

The Post likened the scrum of reporters attending the meeting to a "mosh pit at a concert for the latest teen sensation" and referred to Dr Antinori as "Dr Miracle".

'Quite insane'

Drawing parallels with genetic experiments conducted in Nazi Germany, the New York Post's online edition took a harder line, attacking Dr Antinori as "historically and morally, quite insane".

Even if the creepiness factor can be discounted, personal consent cannot

Washington Times
"[Antinori] knows how vulnerable society is to men in lab coats who promise an end to suffering ... we are increasingly willing to escape pain and unhappiness at any cost," it said.

Adopting a more pragmatic tone, the Washington Times commented that Dr Antinori "doesn't look like a mad scientist."

"Dr Antinori, a bespectacled man with a bushy moustache looks nothing like the Hollywood vision of Dr Frankenstein insanely toiling in his lab to create life."

However the paper acknowledged that many of his critics have accused the "mild looking 56-year-old father of two" of playing God.

Technical problems

In a commentary piece in the Chicago Tribune, the editor of Ethics and Medicine, Nigel Cameron, pointed out that aside from the moral debate there remain many technical problems with human cloning.

Mr Cameron said that three out of five cloned animals die shortly before or immediately after birth.

"If an infectious disease were killing one-third of human infants, we would declare it a public health emergency ... We certainly wouldn't set up a clinic to enable it to happen," he said.

"Even if the creepiness factor can be discounted, personal consent cannot," said the Washington Times.

"Efforts to clone humans are experiments done on humans - without their consent," it added.

"Man's desire for immortality is as understandable as his repugnance at the thought of human cloning ... yet following ethical guidelines instead of emotional responses is a key part of what makes us, well, uniquely human."

The BBC's Richard Hollingham
"There are all sorts of problems to overcome"
Discussing the issues:
Kenneth Connor of the Family Research Council & Dr Brigitte Boisselier, a biochemist
Ray Spier, Professor of Science Ethics
supports plans to clone humans
See also:

07 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Profile: Dr Severino Antinori
09 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Human cloning: The 'terrible odds'
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