Johannesburg – The cloning of babies is against the law in South Africa and is prohibited by the World Health Organisation, says Collette Vosloo of SA’s Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (Saasta).
Vosloo said this after claims that a Pretoria couple was expecting a cloned baby as part of a programme to promote the public’s comprehension of biotechnology.
During a visit to South Africa this week, Dr Brigitte Boisselier, president of the controversial company Clonaid, claimed that a Pretoria woman was three months pregnant.
She claims he firm has already cloned 13 babies across the globe. The company has not submitted any scientific evidence yet to substantiate its claims.
Vosloo said the Human Tissue Act (No 65 of 1983) prohibited any form of cloning in South Africa. The draft bill on national health, however, permitted cloning for therapeutical means.
Dolly arrived after 277 attempts
Therapeutical cloning does not comprise the cloning of an entire organism, but only of cells and organs for transplant purposes.
According to Saasta, the cloning process is not scientifically advanced enough to ensure it is safe for reproduction. Fewer than 10 animal species had been successfully cloned, and not one was a primate as are human beings.
The team who cloned Dolly the sheep about six years ago only succeeded after 277 attempts.
Boisselier claims the Pretoria couple was treated outside South Africa’s borders, so no laws were broken in this country.
During her talk at the University of the Witwatersrand she said she didn’t understand the uproar about birth defects that happen during cloning.
Founded by Raelian sect
“Hundreds of babies are born with birth defects every year in the United States,” she said.
“When the first test-tube baby was born, everybody was just as upset. Within 10 to 20 years, it will be seen as normal.”
Clonaid was founded in 1997 by the Raelian sect. They believe life on Earth was created 25 000 years ago when space scientists cloned themselves to create humans.