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Last Updated:  Sunday, 23 February, 2003, 19:59 GMT
France warns of cloning abuses
French President Jacques Chirac urges ban
These abuses constitute a challenge to the universal conscience - we must stop them
Jacques Chirac
French President Jacques Chirac has said he will press the United Nations for an international convention on bioethics to prevent cloning research being abused.

In a harshly worded warning, he told France's national ethics committee that unscrupulous researchers were reviving genetic fantasies once pursued by the racist Nazi regime.

"Warped scientists", he said, "are reviving the eugenicist fantasies which one would have liked to see disappear along with all forms of totalitarianism".

Mr Chirac was speaking after recent claims by a biotechnology company with French links that it had created the world's first cloned baby.

Eugenics
Scientific research based on the belief that the human race can be improved by controlling reproduction
Pursued by the Nazis, who had an Institute for Heredity, Biology and Racial Purity, through abortion and sterilisation
France is already a leading opponent of human cloning, but Mr Chirac said a concerted, international approach was needed.

"In this age of globalisation, national laws are obviously not sufficient," he said, promising to submit a proposal for an international bioethics convention to the UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in the autumn.

"Unscrupulous laboratories carry out premature testing of new molecules on poor and helpless populations," he told his audience.

"The trade in organs and tissues gives rise to a shameful form of trafficking. These abuses constitute a challenge to the universal conscience - we must stop them."

US President George Bush has also called for a total ban on human cloning.

Cell research approved

Mr Chirac outlined his government's plans to bring in a ban on human cloning while allowing for research into embryonic cells.

Research into such cells, he said, could help find treatments for Parkinson's disease or diabetes but it would be closely regulated in France to ensure it did not lead to reproductive cloning.

"We must act with discernment, encouraging research on adult cells first and foremost," the French president said.

The Clonaid biotechnology company claims to have created the world's first cloned human baby but has yet to supply proof.

It was set up by Frenchman Claude Vorilhon, also founder of the Raelian religious cult which believes life on Earth was created by extraterrestrials.


SEE ALSO:
'Cloned baby' said to be in Israel
29 Jan 03 |  Americas
Cloning humans: Can it really be done?
28 Dec 02 |  Science/Nature
Who are the Raelians?
28 Dec 02 |  Health
Human cloning: History or hysteria
28 Dec 02 |  Technology


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