Four more clones due soon

The Sunday Telegraph, via Courier Mail (Australia), Dec. 29, 2002
http://news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,5760460%255E3163,00.html
By PAUL POTTINGER

The claimed birth of the first human clone on Boxing Day could be followed by four more in January.

Although the Raelian cult group which announced the birth of baby Eve to a 31-year-old American mother has yet to provide proof, its claim is due to be independently verified this week.

Clonaid, the company arm of the sect that believes human life was created by aliens 25,000 years ago, claims to have created the world’s first cloned human.

It announced that Eve, a genetic copy of her mother, born by Caesarean section and weighing in at 3.17kg, is the first of five “successful” embryos implanted by the Raelians.

Brigitte Boisselier, a French chemist who called herself a “bishop of the Raelian sect”, claimed she had the power to create life.

“Yesterday, I can tell you, it was the best day of their lives,” she told a Florida press conference.

“It’s very important to remind you that we are talking about a baby, not a monster or the results of something disgusting.

“She is very healthy – she’s fine and doing well.”

Ms Boisselier was defiant in the face of criticism that she was trying to play God.

“I am creating life, but I do not want anyone to think that I am playing God. If my science is giving babies to parents who longed to get their own genes, is my science worse than that which gives bombs to people?”

The founding member of the Raelian sect said it had begun human cloning last spring, when it implanted 10 embryos.

Five were “spontaneously terminated”, while the other five were “successful”.

“The next one is due in Europe next week, so it’s very close, and the three others will be born by the end of January, maybe early February,” Ms Boisselier said.

While she refused to reveal where Eve was born, Ms Boisselier said she was expected to leave hospital tomorrow with her mother, an American divorcee.

Once home, she will be analysed by a group of independent specialists, who will take DNA evidence from both the mother and baby to ascertain the truth of the claims.

Ms Boisselier, 45, is a mother of three whose own daughter is among those who have volunteered to carry cloned babies.

Clonaid’s leaders said they had perfected the process that created the sheep Dolly.

They took an egg from the human mother and removed the nucleus carrying the DNA, which is the body’s blueprint. They used an electrical current to fuse the empty egg with the mother’s skin cell carrying her own genes.

Clonaid said it implanted the embryo into the mother’s womb, where it grew to term.

Ms Boisselier said her company planned a worldwide program of human cloning.

“We intend to open clinics, at least one per continent,” she said. “There will be 20 more implantations done sometime in January, if everything goes fine.”

Clonaid was founded by Claude Vorilhon, a former French journalist and leader of the Raelians. Believers assert that aliens created all life on Earth through genetic engineering.

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