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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Scientists boycott cloning conference
Dr Antinori AP
Dr Antinori: Delivered twins to a 59-year-old mother
British scientists and fertility experts have pulled out of an international cloning conference hosted by a doctor who wants to produce the first human baby clone.

Dr Severino Antinori had invited more than 70 experts to speak at the meeting in Monte Carlo next month, but many have now pulled out.

[Dr Antinori] upset serious scientists and doctors because of his ridiculous, unsound and unscientific propaganda

Prof Wilfried Feichtinger, Apart president
They include Professor Ian Wilmut, one of the scientists behind Dolly the sheep clone, and Dr Anne McLaren, a member of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

The group of private fertility clinics originally behind the meeting has now suspended Dr Antinori from the organisation and withdrawn its support.

Non participation

The Italian fertility doctor, who wants to clone a human despite widespread condemnation, has said the October meeting will still go ahead.

The conference was originally organised by a group of more than a hundred private fertility clinics known as Apart (Association of Private Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinics and Laboratories), of which Dr Antinori was a member.

Dr Antinori took on responsibility for the congress earlier this year and offered to find financial backing.

But Apart became concerned when several problems emerged. Registration was poor, speakers pulled out and no abstracts had been submitted to an accompanying journal.

Private meeting

Professor Wilfried Feichtinger, President of Apart, said Dr Antinori was suspended from the organisation last week and was facing expulsion.

The group has now cut all ties with the Monte Carlo meeting.

Professor Feichtinger told BBC News Online: "[Dr Antinori] upset serious scientists and doctors because of his ridiculous, unsound and unscientific propaganda in the media.

"This is not a conference of our association anymore," he added. "This is a private meeting organised by Dr Antinori."

Professor Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Scotland said he had received an invitation to attend the Monte Carlo meeting but had now withdrawn.

"I accepted the invite in order to explain why human reproductive cloning would be dangerous," he told BBC News Online. "Apart have now withdrawn and so have I."

See also:

09 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Cloning doctor sparks furore
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