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Call for ban on human cloning

BBC, UK
Sep. 22, 2003
news.bbc.co.uk

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Tuesday September 23, 2003

Scientists from around the world are to call for an international ban on the cloning of humans.

Only a few countries, including the UK, have so far outlawed it.

All attempts to introduce a world-wide ban have been stymied because some countries want that to include the use of all cloning techniques in medical research.

However, many researchers believe the use of some cloning techniques could lead to a revolution in medicine.

The Inter-Academy Panel, a network of scientific societies representing the world’s leading researchers, is expected to call for a specific ban on what they term reproductive cloning.

It is not opposed to the use of cloning techniques to find treatments for incurable diseases.

The move has been backed by Lord May, the president of the Royal Society, who said human cloning must be banned to prevent unscrupulous people from exploiting the vulnerable.

Lord May said that human cloning was a threat to the health of both the cloned child and the mother.

He called attempts to clone babies “grossly irresponsible” and which simply exploited vulnerable people who desperately wanted children.

“It would be a tragedy if we allowed disagreements on therapeutic cloning to jeopardise a convention that could ensure that human reproductive cloning is outlawed across the globe and protect vulnerable people from unscrupulous individuals,” he said.

The United Nations is to debate human cloning next week.

Problems

Theoretically, it should be possible to clone a human by removing the DNA from the nucleus of an egg cell taken from the mother.

This DNA would then be replaced by the genetic material taken from a cell from the person who is to be cloned.

A trigger would be applied to the egg cell that would then make it start to divide like any normal embryo.

The mother would have it implanted in her womb in a procedure which is routinely performed in IVF clinics.

However, US research published earlier this year suggests that it may never be possible successfully to clone a human because of the specific biological make-up of the eggs of primates, including humans.

Although animal experiments have produced successful clones, the vast majority of pregnancies have gone badly wrong.

There are also concerns about the health of cloned animals once they are born.

A US company, Clonaid – which is linked to a sect that believes aliens created humans by cloning 25,000 years ago – has claimed to have cloned five human babies since last December.

But many scientists have dismissed the claim, pointing to the company’s failure to provide DNA proof.

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