Cult claims Japanese clone born

Mainichi Daily News (Japan), Jan. 24, 2003

A Japanese male clone has been born, according to Clonaid, a company set up by the controversial Raelians.

Japanese law bans the cloning of humans, but loopholes exist that could allow such a child to be born in the country.

Clonaid claims the boy was born to a couple of Japanese scientists in their 40s who used a surrogate mother, but has so far released no further details. Clonaid claims the boy is the third cloned human it has created.

Despite Clonaid’s insistence that it is telling the truth, few so far accept the authenticity of its claims.

“Absolutely no scientific facts back up this religious group’s claims and it hopes the uproar it creates will give it publicity,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said.

Education and Science Minister Atsuko Toyama said Friday, “at this stage, the best thing we can do is just ignore them.”

Clonaid was founded in 1997 in the Bahamas by the Raelians, a religious group that contends extraterrestrials used genetic engineering to create life on Earth. The Raelians were founded in France in 1973 and claim 55,000 members in 84 countries.

The leader is known as Rael, the former Claude Vorilhon, who dresses in a white spacesuit-like uniform and says he spreads his message after encounters with creatures who came to Earth in a UFO.

Japanese law forbids cloned cells from being used to impregnate a woman. Offenders in Japan face a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment or fine of 10 million yen. But if the woman is impregnated outside of the country, Japanese law cannot touch the offenders, even if the cloned child is born in Japan.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday January 24, 2003.
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