By Patrick Goodenough
CNSNews.com Pacific Rim Bureau Chief
July 26, 2002
Pacific Rim Bureau (CNSNews.com) – Maverick scientists involved in the race to be first to clone a human being shrugged off opposition from the South Korean government, saying there was no legal impediment to their work in the country.
BioFusion Tech, the Korean branch of the U.S.-based group, Clonaid, claimed this week that it has helped a woman become pregnant with a cloned baby.
BioFusion-Clonaid spokesman Kwak Gi-Hwa said in an interview Friday the “surrogate mother” was a 26-year-old, unmarried Korean.
After BioFusion-Clonaid made its announcement this week, the Korean’s health and welfare ministry said it would be investigating the claim.
Clonaid head Dr. Brigitte Boisselier is one of three controversial scientists who last year announced their intention to pioneer human cloning. The other two are Kentucky-based Dr. Panos Zavos and an Italian infertility specialist, Dr. Severino Antinori.
Antinori recently told European media organizations he was overseeing three clone pregnancies. One had successfully passed its first trimester, and that the baby would be born in December, he said.
Zavos, too, claims to have selected six couples to produce cloned babies in an unnamed developing country.
No proof of any of the claims has been produced.
The idea of cloning a human being is anathema to many – pro-lifers, ethicists, environmentalists, medical experts and adherents of most religious groups.
All efforts to bring a cloned baby into the world are highly controversial, but Clonaid’s campaign is arguably more so because the group is attached to an extraterrestrial-worshipping religious cult founded by a former French journalist, Claude Vorilhon, who calls himself Rael.
Kwak confirmed Friday that he was himself a Raelian, and believed Rael’s teaching that cloning offered humankind eternal life.
Asked to elaborate, he said the Raelians hoped in the future to be able to transfer a copy of a person’s “memories, knowledge and personality” onto his or her clone.
He conceded that such technology was not available, but said researchers in the U.S. and Japan were working on it.
To the argument that a cloned person would have a soul of his or her own – thus calling into question the idea that cloning yourself would be a way of achieving “eternal life” – Kwak replied that Raelians did not believe humans had “souls and spirits.”
The Raelians claim to have 55,000 followers in 84 countries. Their leader teaches that life on earth was created by an extraterrestrial race called “Elohim” which was mistranslated in the Bible as God. (Elohim is Hebrew for God.)
Rael also teaches that Jesus was resurrected through a cloning technique. The group’s website says Rael is available for public speeches about cloning, for a fee of $100,000.