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 Wednesday, 8 January, 2003, 18:12 GMT
'Clone baby' parents bar tests
Claude Vorilhon - the spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement and founder of Clonaid
The Raelian sect believes humans were cloned by aliens
The parents of a baby said to be the world's first human clone have suspended tests which could prove whether the claim is true.

The Clonaid company said the parents had decided not to have the tests until they were guaranteed that the baby - nicknamed Eve - would not be taken away.
I'm not advocating that a child be ripped from a mother's arms

Lawyer Bernard Siegel

As the controversy continues over the authentication of the claim, there have been further calls in Europe and the US for human cloning to be banned.

The European Union's commissioner for research called for an international drive to outlaw human cloning, while a group of US congressmen said they are re-introducing a bill on the subject in the new session.

A journalist appointed to oversee verification that Eve is a clone of her mother has already suspended investigations, saying the claim could be a hoax.

Legal implications

Brigitte Boisselier, the scientist who heads Clonaid, said the parents of Eve, were afraid of allowing access to the baby because of the pending lawsuit.

"The parents are considering a number of legal implications," she told the French AFP news agency.

Dr Brigitte Boisselier
Clonaid scientist Brigitte Boisselier has promised to provide proof
"They might decide not to register [the baby] in their country. Eve might not even become a US national," she added.

A Florida lawyer is asking a judge to place Eve under court protection.

Bernard Siegel, who filed the case, told Canadian television he was surprised that Clonaid were using his action as a pretext not to undergo the DNA tests.

He told the Miami Herald newspaper: ''I'm not advocating that a child be ripped from a mother's arms.

"On the contrary, I'm trying to show that this child faces grave medical risks.''

A judge is scheduled to rule on whether the case should proceed later this month.

Genetic problems

Mr Siegel filed the lawsuit in Florida, where Ms Boisselier announced the birth of Eve in December.

She said the baby was an exact genetic replica of her mother, a 31-year-old American about whom no other details have been released.

Michael Guillen
Journalist Michael Guillen has conceded the claims may be a hoax
Scientists who have cloned animals have reported a high failure rate in the procedure, genetic defects and medical problems even for clones born apparently healthy.

Ms Boisselier - who has links to the Raelian sect which believes aliens created humans by cloning - said earlier that proof would be made available.

If DNA tests could not be performed on Eve, other cloned babies would soon be available for verification.

She said a second clone had already been born to a Dutch woman and three more women were in the late stages of pregnancy carrying clones.

Speculation

But scientists remain sceptical.

Several leading US researchers had offered to perform DNA tests on Eve and her mother and child, but Clonaid rejected their advances.

Instead it appointed a freelance science journalist - Michael Guillen - to form a team of experts.

But he announced earlier this week that he could not go ahead with the process, alleging that his team of scientists had not been given access to the family.

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

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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