MOH sounds warning against human cloning

It draws attention to future penalties for such acts

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has warned Singaporeans against pursuing human cloning, following a news report last week that said two local couples have sought the aid of controversial company Clonaid to clone children after attempts to have offspring by other means failed.

A report in Streats on June 18 quoted Clonaid vice-president Thomas Kaenzig saying that two Chinese couples here have signed agreements with the company to clone children, to be born by late 2005. This was reported to have cost each couple US$200,000.

Cloning creates a genetically identical copy of the living thing whose cells are used.

A statement from the ministry said: ‘MOH would like to caution the public that claims made by Clonaid have not been verified by any reputable authorities nor substantiated with any scientific evidence.’

MOH also drew attention to impending laws that will prohibit human cloning and impose stiff penalties on those in breach.

Ministry spokeswoman Esther Wong said a law prohibiting human reproductive cloning is expected to be passed by Parliament in the third quarter of this year. Under the Human Cloning and Other Prohibited Practices Act, anyone found guilty of placing a human embryo clone into a woman’s body will face a maximum fine of $100,000 and a maximum jail term of 10 years.

But until the law takes effect, there is no legal framework to prosecute guilty parties. MOH said it has no information on the identity of the couples cited in the Streats article, but said they would be subject to prevailing laws in other countries. Many countries have imposed a blanket ban on human cloning.

Selling its services under the tagline ‘Eternal Life Thanks to Science’, Clonaid was founded by a quasi-religious sect which believes that life on earth was created by extra-terrestrials. The company made headlines worldwide in late 2002 when it claimed to have cloned the first human. Since then, the feat is believed to have been repeated by a team of South Korean scientists.

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