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EDITIONS
 Friday, 3 January, 2003, 13:05 GMT
'Cloned baby' DNA test delayed
Graphic, BBC
The group say another clone will be born this week
Tests to identify whether a baby is the world's first human clone have been held up after a lawsuit was filed against her parents.

DNA samples were to have been taken from the girl born on 26 December and her 31-year-old mother to see if they were an exact genetic match as has been alleged.

I perceived that this child, more than any other child in the world, needs legal protection under the United States courts

Bernard Siegel,
petitioning lawyer
But the head of the cloning company which claims it engineered the baby said the parents were reconsidering allowing the tests after a court was asked to determine if they were fit guardians of the child.

Clonaid chief executive Brigitte Boisselier has insisted that the baby, nicknamed Eve, is the first of five cloned babies to be born, but scientists have been sceptical in the absence of DNA proof.

Independent experts had been scheduled to take samples of DNA from the girl and her mother on Tuesday.

But that did not happen and Ms Boisselier says the baby's parents are now unsure if it should be carried out at all.

"The parents told me that they needed 48 hours to decide yes or no - if they would do it," she told France-2 television, adding that testing could happen with one of the other babies due to be born.

Dr Brigitte Boisselier, the scientist leading Clonaid's efforts
Dr Boisselier says cloning proof could come from other babies

The lawsuit filed in Miami demands the appearance of the baby's parents in court on 22 January.

But the couple may try to remain anonymous and not subject the child, whose identity and whereabouts are unknown, to any testing, Ms Boisselier said.

"The parents have gone home and they just want some peace and to spend time with their child," she said.

Legal action

A Florida lawyer, Bernard Siegel, said he petitioned for the child to be made a ward of court because he believes that if the child is indeed a clone she is being abused.

Perhaps the second child will be more accessible because it is in Europe and the country in which he or she will be born may be less sensitive

Brigitte Boisselier, Clonaid CEO

"I was concerned that, if this is true, this child is an abused child, that it could have some serious genetic, fatal problems and that the child was being exploited by Clonaid," he said.

"I perceived that this child, more than any other child in the world, needs legal protection under the United States courts."

He added he was not working for a client, but launched the case on his own volition.

As a result of the petition, the parents and all those who participated in the alleged cloning are required to appear in court on 22 January.

Claude Vorilhon - the spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement and founder of Clonaid
The Raelian sect believes humans were cloned by aliens
Ms Boisselier said proof that human cloning is possible could be provided by a second baby, due to be born somewhere in Europe in the next few days.

"Perhaps the second child will be more accessible because it is in Europe and the country in which he or she will be born may be less sensitive," she said, although she declined to name the country.

Ms Boisselier and Clonaid are linked to the Raelian religious sect which believes space aliens created life on Earth through cloning.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Cloning scientist Dr Panos Zavos
"This is becoming a little bit of a circus"
See also:

30 Dec 02 | Health
29 Dec 02 | Health
27 Dec 02 | Health
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
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