Reuters, Jan. 3, 2002
BY CATHERINE BREMER
PARIS – A second cloned baby will be born this week, a firm claiming to have produced the first human clone said on Thursday, although it has failed to carry out genetic tests it promised to provide as proof. Chief executive Brigitte Boisselier of Clonaid, set up by a cult that believes mankind was created by aliens, told France 2 television and BBC Two in Britain that another cloned baby was due to be born somewhere in Europe before the end of the week.
But in interviews with both TV stations, the French scientist and cult member said DNA tests on baby Eve, born to a 31-year-old American woman last Friday, had been put off because the parents were anxious about keeping their identity secret.
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Clonaid had said it would take DNA samples on Tuesday to pacify skeptics and would provide the results a week later.
“These tests have not been carried out. We have had to push them back,” Boisselier said, saying the baby’s parents felt under pressure after a Florida lawyer this week asked a state court to appoint a legal guardian for the baby.
“For the time being the parents told me they are giving themselves another 48 hours to decide whether or not they will do the tests. The parents have gone home and they just want some peace and to spend time with their child,” she told France 2.
“Perhaps the second child will be more accessible because it is in Europe and the country in which he or she will be born may be less sensitive,” she said, adding the birth was due in days.
“It will be this week,” she said.
CLONES ARE “BELATED TWINS”
Clonaid was founded by the creator of the Raelian Movement, a religious cult that believes aliens landed on earth 25,000 years ago and started the human race through cloning.
Clonaid, which says it has a list of 2,000 people willing to pay $200,000 to have themselves or a loved one cloned, announced its breakthrough last Friday and said four more cloned babies would be born by the end of January.
The news sparked condemnation from world leaders, religious figures and scientists, who are calling for proof.
“I am confident these tests will be done soon and will be given to you as proof soon enough,” Boisselier told BBC 2’s Newsnight current affairs program.
She said the obstacle was a filing by a U.S. lawyer on Tuesday asking a Florida court to appoint a guardian for the baby. Under Florida law anyone can file a petition for court protection if they have information that a child is in danger.
The baby’s parents were concerned that the person appointed by Clonaid to carry out DNA tests would have to reveal their identity to the Florida court, even though the baby may well fall outside the court’s jurisdiction.
“The parents are not ready to take that chance yet. I’m discussing with them, because they said they would go public, that was the agreement we had. Right now I have no heart to push them knowing they could lose so much,” Boisselier said.
Cattle, mice, sheep and other animals have been cloned with mixed success. Some have shown defects later in life.
Boisselier is a member of the Raelians, who claim 55,000 followers around the world. The cult’s founder, Rael, says he learned about the origin of life on earth from a visitor from space and sees cloning as a way of achieving eternal life.
Boisselier attacked the media portrayal of Raelian beliefs, saying they were “much more rational than other visions of the origin of life” and defended the right of parents to replace children who had died with what she said were “belated twins.”