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EDITIONS
 Monday, 6 January, 2003, 21:39 GMT
'Clone' baby inquiry suspended
Claude Vorilhon - the spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement and founder of Clonaid
The Raelian sect believes humans were cloned by aliens
An American journalist appointed to verify claims that a US-based company linked to the Raelian sect produced the first ever human clone has suspended his investigation.

It's still entirely possible Clonaid's announcement is part of an elaborate hoax intended to bring publicity to the Raelian movement

Michael Guillen
Michael Guillen said it was "entirely possible" that Clonaid's claims could be "an elaborate hoax".

His announcement comes after reports that he tried unsuccessfully to sell TV programmes on the topic last year.

Clonaid has refused offers from leading US scientists to perform tests on the mother and infant, who the group says was born on 26 December.

'Speculation'

"The team of scientists has had no access to the alleged family and, therefore, cannot verify firsthand the claim that a human baby has been cloned," said a statement from Mr Guillen.

Michael Guillen
Guillen: Offered cloning shows to TV networks
"It's still entirely possible Clonaid's announcement is part of an elaborate hoax intended to bring publicity to the Raelian movement," he added.

However, he said his team was prepared to conduct the tests if the opportunity to collect DNA from the alleged clones became available.

Without independent tests, he said, "all we'll be left with is what we have now - opinion and speculation being passed off as fact".

However, Clonaid says that the parents of baby Eve are reluctant to have the DNA tests as they could be obliged by law to reveal their identity.

Clonaid's claims have been met with widespread scepticism in the scientific community.

Dr Brigitte Boisselier, Clonaid's chief executive, says she has implanted five cloned embryos, two of which have already been born.

'Sympathetic'

Mr Guillen says that when he learned that Clonaid would be announcing cloned births, he proposed to put the claim of successful cloning to the test.

The leader of the Raelian cult, which believes aliens created mankind, said they chose Mr Guillen to conduct the tests because he was "sympathetic".

Before Clonaid's announcement, Mr Guillen offered networks a reality-based show on the cloning process, which he would produce and present for around $100,000, the New York Times reported.

The paper also said that it had been offered an article on the topic in May, which had been turned down.

Mr Guillen has a PhD from Cornell University and taught physics at Harvard before he moved into TV journalism.

Correspondents say he has a history of TV reports examining scientifically questionable subjects like psychokinesis, astrology, auras, precognition and cold fusion.

Several years ago he was given a spoof award by the sceptics' group the James Randi Foundation for what it called "promoting pseudoscience and quackery".

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's James Thomson
"Cloning humans is a technically difficult procedure"
  UK President of the Raelians, Glen Carter
"Michael Guillen is just trying to prove his independence"
Human reproductive cloning

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See also:

05 Jan 03 | Health
28 Dec 02 | Health
28 Dec 02 | Technology
25 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
09 Mar 01 | Science/Nature
15 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
06 Jul 01 | Science/Nature
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