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 Sunday, 5 January, 2003, 00:15 GMT
Second 'cloned baby' born
Dr Brigitte Boisselier of Clonaid
Clonaid is linked to the Raelian sect
The group which claimed the first birth of a cloned human last week says a second such baby has now been born to a Dutch lesbian couple.

The baby girl and the mother are said to be well after the birth on Friday night.

I think it's entirely unacceptable for groups like Clonaid to be gambling with the health of children

Dr Harry Griffin, creator of Dolly the sheep
Chief executive of the US-based Clonaid organisation Brigitte Boisselier told the French news agency AFP the child weighed 2.7 kilograms (six pounds), but would not specify in which country the birth had taken place.

Sceptical international scientists are still awaiting DNA proof that the first baby - a girl named Eve - is indeed an exact genetic match of her 31-year-old American mother.

DNA tests that were to be carried out on that child were cancelled after the parents asked for a delay, reportedly through fears the process could reveal their identity or be used to remove the baby from their care.

Clonaid's claims have brought condemnation from religious leaders and led to renewed calls for human cloning to be banned.

Clonaid was set up by the Raelian religious sect, which believes aliens created mankind.

The organisation says it is expecting a total of five cloned babies it has created.

'Just for publicity'

The scientific community is sceptical of the group's claims.

Dr Harry Griffin, head of Britain's Roslin Institute which cloned the first adult mammal, Dolly the sheep, told Reuters news agency "there is no reason to believe this is anything other than a long drawn-out publicity stunt".

Claude Vorilhon - the spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement and founder of Clonaid
The Raelians believe humans were cloned by aliens
But he also said that if cloned babies had been produced, further experiments should be stopped.

"I think it's entirely unacceptable for groups like Clonaid to be gambling with the health of children," he said.

Even controversial Italian embryologist Severino Antinori dismissed the Raelians' claims.

"It's all false," Dr Antinori told the French news agency AFP. "It's depressing for people doing serious research on therapeutic cloning."

Dr Antinori - a fertility expert who supports cloning technologies - said the Raelians were unwilling for their claims to be tested, showing their announcement was only for publicity.

'Abuse fears'

DNA samples due to be taken from the first baby and her mother on Tuesday were cancelled after a lawsuit was filed against the parents.

Dr Brigitte Boisselier, the scientist leading Clonaid's efforts
The parents want to remain anonymous, Ms Boisselier says
Ms Boisselier said the baby's parents may not let the test be carried out at all.

In the lawsuit filed in Miami by Florida lawyer Bernard Siegel, a court was asked to determine if the parents were fit guardians of the child.

It demands the appearance of the baby's parents in court on 22 January.

Mr Siegel said he wanted the child to be made a ward of court because he believed that if she was indeed a clone, she was being abused.

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

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

Alien heritage

Clonaid was founded in the Bahamas in 1997 by the man who founded the Raelians - Claude Rael.

He is reported to have said he views cloning as a step towards reaching eternal life.

In the cloning process, the nucleus of a cell containing human DNA is transplanted into a woman's egg from which the nucleus has been removed.

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  The BBC's Richard Slee
"Genetic scientists have major concerns about the ethics behind the experiments"
Human reproductive cloning

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See also:

03 Jan 03 | Health
30 Dec 02 | Health
29 Dec 02 | Health
27 Dec 02 | Health
09 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
06 Jul 01 | Science/Nature
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