BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
 Saturday, 28 December, 2002, 12:05 GMT
Calls for UK review of cloning
DNA strand
The Raelians claim they have cloned adult cells
Claims that the world's first cloned baby has been born in the US have prompted calls for a review of UK law on cloning.

Human cloning is currently banned in Britain but there are suspicions the American baby, if it exists, could have been created using British technology.

The race to create the first human began after scientists in Edinburgh cloned the first mammal, Dolly the sheep, in 1997.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in the UK said it was "concerned" about the latest development.

Here we are with the technology on our doorstep and we have not really addressed it

Dr Ian Gibson
Dr Ian Gibson, Labour chairman of the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee, called for a Parliamentary review of fertility and cloning technologies.

"These technologies, the questions, the use of the technologies, are raising new moral and ethical morasses for us and we need to debate it seriously over a period.

"Here we are with the technology on our doorstep and we have not really addressed it.

"Parliament has started to look into the question but we need to go a long way further to analyse what the public really think."

Global race

Dr Patrick Dixon, a campaigner on the ethics of human cloning and the author of the Genetic Revolution, has warned that there are huge risks involved with human cloning and wants a global moratorium.

"There's a global race by maverick scientists to produce clones, motivated by fame, money and warped and twisted beliefs," he said.

Dolly the sheep
We need hard evidence

Dr Harry Griffin
He added: "Can you imagine what it will be like for a 12-year-old daughter to look at her mother and realise she is seeing her own sister?"

US-based company Clonaid, which has links with the Raelian religious cult, said the healthy baby girl was born by Caesarean section to a 31-year-old mother on Boxing Day.

Leading scientists have said they will not believe the claims until they have seen independent proof.

Dr Harry Griffin, the scientific director at the Roslin institute where Dolly the sheep was produced, said the scientific community would have to see evidence before it was convinced the baby had been produced by cloning.

The evidence will be supplied in the next few days

Glen Carter
Raelian

"We need hard evidence that it's been done and about success rates so they can comment with some authority on what at the moment can be characterised as a publicity stunt," he said.

Among the other sceptics is the director of the London Fertility Clinic, Professor Ian Craft, who says it is unlikely a baby clone has been born.

Glen Carter, the UK President of the Raelian movement, said the secrecy surrounding the birth was necessary to protect the identity of the mother.

"The evidence will be supplied in the next few days," he said.

'Pandora's Box'

However, some experts said it was possible the Raelians had cloned a human.

"It's been done in a whole variety of domestic and agricultural animals and it can be done in humans," said Dr James Scott, of Imperial College, London.

"But there is a great danger of premature ageing, cancer, difficulties with joints - it's unknown territory.

"Medicine should at least do no harm but there's a real danger that this child will have all sorts of terrible things happening to her."

Campaign group Life said the development was "deplorable, assuming it's true".

The world is full of unscrupulous mavericks who have no hesitation in experimenting on human beings in this degrading and destructive way

ProLife Alliance
Spokesman Jack Scarisbrick said: "We have to keep on reminding ourselves that a cloned human being is an entirely new human being produced asexually without parents in the traditional sense and jerked into life with an electric current.

"How many died on the way to this? This is yet further commodification and trivialisation of life.

"Now the Pandora's Box is open."

A spokesman for the ProLife Alliance added: "These dreadful headline hunters have been with us for months.

"The world is full of unscrupulous mavericks who have no hesitation in experimenting on human beings in this degrading and destructive way."

US President George W Bush called on Congress to outlaw human cloning and French President Jacques Chirac said the development was "criminal and contrary to human dignity".

What do you think of claims that the world's first cloned baby has been produced?

Send us your comments:

Name:


Your E-mail address:


Country:


Comments:


Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Pallab Ghosh
"Most attempts at cloning lead to miscarriages and deformities at birth"
  Mohamed Taranissi, reproduction expert
"What you need to do is improve on the technology"
  Glenn Carter, President, British Raelian Movement
"The proof will be provided in the next few days"
Human reproductive cloning

Latest news

The science

Background

FORUM

TALKING POINT
See also:

25 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
09 Mar 01 | Science/Nature
09 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
15 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
06 Jul 01 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes