Italy’s Antinori Says Clone Baby Claim ‘Invention’

Reuters, Dec. 28, 2002
http://www.siliconvalley.com/
BY SHASTA DARLINGTON

ROME – Both Italian fertility expert Vatican cast doubt on Saturday on the claim by an obscure cult that its followers had produced the world’s first cloned human being.

“These claims give science a bad name. There is nothing credible about them,” said Antinori, a maverick doctor who had previously announced that one of his patients would give birth to the first cloned baby in January.

The Vatican said the claim was “an expression of a brutal mentality, lacking all ethical and human consideration” and noted the group had provided no proof.

The Raelians, a cult which believes aliens created mankind through cloning, claimed the breakthrough at a news conference in Florida on Friday.

A French scientist, a cult member, announced that the first cloned baby had been born with the help of Clonaid, a research company closely linked to the sect.

She said the baby girl, named Eve, was born to a 31-year-old American woman after being cloned from the woman’s cells. She provided no evidence but said it would be available soon.

Antinori, speaking in a telephone interview with Reuters, was scornful of the claim. “They’re not even scientists. I have 200 published medical studies, what do they have? This is pure invention,” he said.

The controversial doctor gained fame nearly a decade ago when he helped a 62-year-old woman give birth, using a donor egg after giving her fertility treatment.

Earlier this year, Antinori told a news conference in Rome that a woman pregnant with a cloned embryo was due to give birth in January, but declined to give any details about where or how the birth would take place.

“Things are continuing as I have said. I have nothing to add to my previous comments,” Antinori said on Saturday.

Cloning experts have cast doubt on both Conaid’s and Antinori’s claims, and Friday’s announcement fueled concern about both the ethics and the practical effects of human cloning.

“The announcement, without any element of proof, has already prompted the skepticism and moral condemnation of a large part of the international scientific community,” Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in a statement.

Clonaid was founded by Claude Vorilhon, who calls himself Rael and founded the Raelian cult. The group, which claims 55,000 followers around the world, believes life on Earth was created by extraterrestrials 25,000 years ago through cloning.

Antinori is a strong proponent of cloning to help infertile couples have children.

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