BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Medical notes
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
 Saturday, 28 December, 2002, 14:28 GMT
Demands grow for human clone ban
Graphic, BBC
Advocates argue cloning can help infertile couples
There are growing demands for a ban on human cloning after claims that a girl born on Thursday is an exact genetic replica of her mother.

Clonaid scientist Brigitte Boisselier
Clonaid scientist Brigitte Boisselier said four more clones will be born soon
French President Chirac has called on all countries to rally behind a Franco-German proposal for a global ban on human cloning which has been submitted to the United Nations.

US President George W Bush says the process is "deeply troubling".

Scientists remain sceptical of the success claimed by the Clonaid company, which is linked to a sect that believes aliens created humans by cloning 25,000 years ago.

But legislators in Britain and elsewhere say there has to be discussion and introduction of rules for the practice of scientific methods which could produce a cloned baby, even if Clonaid's claims are untrue.

The practice is contrary to human dignity and criminal

French President Jacques Chirac
Clonaid scientist Brigitte Boisselier said a baby girl - nicknamed Eve - was born in the US after the genetic material from a woman's skin cell was fused with one of her eggs.

Dr Boisselier said four other women were due to give birth to baby clones in the coming weeks - one in Europe, another in North America and two in Asia.

Strong condemnation

President Chirac made his appeal for a global ban on human cloning in a statement issued by his office late on Friday.

"Whatever the truth behind the announcement, the president of the republic takes this opportunity to reiterate his strong condemnation of all research into human reproductive cloning and to solemnly reaffirm that for France the practice is contrary to human dignity and criminal," the statement said.

Earlier, a spokesman for Mr Bush spoke of his unease.

These technologies... are raising new moral and ethical morasses for us

Dr Ian Gibson
British legislator
Scott McClellan said: "Despite the widespread scepticism among scientists and medical professionals about [the] announcement, it underscores the need for the new Congress to act."

The US House of Representatives passed a bill to ban cloning last year, but it has not been approved by the Senate or become law.

In Britain, human cloning is banned.

But Dr Ian Gibson, the head of the UK's parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee, said there should be a 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," he told the BBC.

Secrecy defended

Clonaid offered no evidence of its alleged cloning success at its announcement, but said independent scientists would be allowed to test the mother and her daughter.

The results of those tests will be available within days and would need to show the parent and child are an exact genetic match for the clone claim to be verified.

The British leader of the Raelian sect - with which Clonaid is linked - defended the secrecy before the birth.

Glen Carter said: "I don't think the security of the mother carrying the child would have been guaranteed had people - independent or not independent - outside the Clonaid company been aware of the whereabouts and the circumstances of the birth."

'Ludicrous' claims

Dr Harry Griffin, the head of the Roslin Institute which created Dolly the sheep (the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell) said all researchers had reported high numbers of miscarriages, deaths after birth and other problems with cloned animals.

"It is not an inevitable consequence of being cloned but it is a common consequence," he said, adding he found the cloning of humans "objectionable".

A leading British fertility expert, Lord Winston, said most scientists would regard Clonaid's claims as "ludicrous".

He wrote in Britain's Mirror newspaper: "This strange cult is publicity seeking."

But Mohamed Taranissi, of London's Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre, said a distinction should be drawn between the alleged breakthrough and the people behind it.

"I believe that if this claim has been substantiated there is a lot of potential uses for it and good uses for it."

  The BBC's Pallab Ghosh
"There is no proof for any of these claims"
  The BBC's John Mcintyre reports on the Raelian sect
"Reaction from the traditional religions is one of horror"
  Dr Patrick Dixon, anti-cloning campaigner
"I don't see any reason to doubt it whatsoever"
Human reproductive cloning

Latest news

The science



See also:

28 Dec 02 | Technology
25 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
09 Mar 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 |