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 Saturday, 28 December, 2002, 09:06 GMT
Cloning claim prompts call for ban
Graphic, BBC
Advocates argue cloning can help infertile couples
The claim by a controversial company linked to a UFO sect that it has produced the world's first human baby clone has prompted calls for cloning to be outlawed in the United States.

If this is the wave of the future then I don't want it

Leon Kass
Chair of US president's bioethics council
The chair of a leading American bioethics committee told the BBC the US should "come down very hard on people who want to cross this boundary between procreation and manufacture".

US-based company Clonaid says it has produced a healthy cloned baby girl, nicknamed Eve by scientists, born by Caesarean section on Thursday to a 31-year-old US mother.

Chairman of the US president's council on bioethics Leon Kass said that the practice was unethical and should be outlawed.

Although the House of Representatives passed a bill to ban all cloning last year, the bill has not passed through the Senate and has not become law.

Bush troubled

"There's a good chance that this particular event or non-event might prompt our Congress to move and get some sort of legislation passed in this session," Mr Kass said.

This is a good step, but it's not the goal. The goal is to give human beings eternal life

Rael
"The arguments... go beyond questions of concerns about safety and really add up to a deep and permanent objection to what these Raelians claim to have done," he told the BBC.

"If this is the wave of the future then I don't want it."

Earlier, a White House spokesman said that US President George W Bush had found the news "deeply troubling", adding that the news underscored the need for legislation to ban all human cloning in the US.

'Infinite cycle'

Clonaid is linked to a sect called the Raelians, whose founder, Claude Vorihon describes himself as a prophet and calls himself Rael.

The Raelians believe humans are the result of a genetic engineering project run by super intelligent extra-terrestrials.

"This is a good step, but it's not the goal. The goal is to give human beings eternal life," said Rael.

"Step two will be through the discovery of accelerated growth process, to be able from a cell from your body, to make an adult clone of yourself in a few hours with a special technology.

"Ultimately, we will create life in the laboratory, like it was done for us, on other planets, and the people who we'll create will look at us as gods, so this is an infinite cycle, if you like," he said.

Race to clone

Clonaid has been racing against the Italian fertility doctor Severino Antinori to produce the first baby clone.

Dr Antinori has claimed that one of his patients will give birth to a baby clone in January.

Clonaid's has not so far put forward any proof for its claim and the location of the alleged birth has been kept secret.

The DNA to be cloned was taken from the mother's skin cell, Clonaid said.

The company says that independent scrutiny and DNA testing of mother and child would be allowed in "eight or nine days".

But BBC science correspondent Richard Black says most scientists doubt Clonaid's ability to clone a human and their motives, pointing to the company's intention to charge around $200,000 for each cloned child.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Pallab Ghosh
"There is no proof for any of these claims"
  Dr Patrick Dixon, anti-cloning campaigner
"I don't see any reason to doubt it whatsoever"
Human reproductive cloning

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See also:

25 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
09 Mar 01 | Science/Nature
15 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
06 Jul 01 | Science/Nature
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