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Monday, September 7, 1998 Published at 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK


Scientist says he will clone himself

Dr Richard Seed: Plans to grow his clone in his wife's womb

The American scientist who horrified the scientific community by saying that he would begin cloning humans within three years has said that first he will clone himself. Our science editor Dr David Whitehouse reports.

Dr Richard Seed made his original claim earlier this year much to the horror of other scientists who said his claims were irresponsible and were unlikely to get very far.

A five-year moratorium on cloning is being observed by mainstream scientists, but the United State's government has so far failed to outlaw the procedure in non-government labs. It is already banned in state-funded laboratories.

Two states, California and Michigan, have outlawed human cloning and dozens of other states are considering bans. But Seed has said that if Congress bans cloning, he will move his operation to Mexico.

[ image: Dolly the Sheep: First cloned mammal]
Dolly the Sheep: First cloned mammal
Many scientists will advise that cloning himself would be a very unwise thing to do. They are add that Dr Seed has no track record in this research and that he was unlikely to gather scientific staff to carry out the project.

Now Dr Seed has issued a response to his critics.

"I have decided to clone myself first to defuse the criticism that I'm taking advantage of desperate women with a procedure that's not proven," the 69-year-old physicist said at a meeting of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences, a group of academic researchers.

If it did go ahead one problem will be Dr Seed's age which brings a greater risk of passing genetic problems to his clone.

Dr Seed said his wife, Gloria, has agreed to carry an embryo that would be created by combining the nucleus of one of his cells with a donor egg.

Dr Seed declined to give his wife's age, but said she was "post-menopausal." He refused to give details of how the pregnancy would work.

This would mean that she may be unable to conceive or only able to do so with a great deal of medical intervention with many dangers for the foetus.

Dr Seed said that cloning would be the first step in discovering immortality. He said he had received hundreds of calls, including many from parents of dying children who want to clone them.

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