S Korea probes human clone claim

BBC, July 24, 2002
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/asia-pacific/2148864.stmOff-site Link

The South Korean Government has started an investigation into a company which claims to have made a woman pregnant with a cloned human embryo.

A Health and Welfare ministry spokesman said investigators had been sent to the laboratory of BioFusion Tech, based in the southern city of Daegu.

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A BioFusion spokesman, Kwak Gi-Hwa, told the BBC that the woman was two months into her pregnancy.

But he said the company was not concerned by the investigation, because at present South Korean law does not ban human cloning and the procedure took place abroad.

BioFusion is an affiliate of the US-based company Clonaid, founded by a religious cult, the Raelian Movement, which believes life on Earth was created scientifically by extra-terrestrials.
Race to be first

In March last year, Clonaid director Brigitte Boisellier was one of three doctors who announced their intention of cloning a human within a year.

A few months ago one of them – Italian embryologist Severino Antinori – said one of his clients was pregnant with a cloned embryo.

At present Korean law does not prohibit human cloning – a draft bill has yet to receive approval by parliament.

But the government wants to know if any other laws have been breached.

The BBC’s science correspondent Richard Black said scientists will inevitably be sceptical of a company linked to Clonaid, not least because of the organisation’s colourful history.

It was set up five years ago by the Raelian Movement, a US-based religious cult which believes that humans were created by a genetic engineering experiment carried out by super-intelligent extra-terrestrial beings.

They see human cloning as a route to eternal life.

In the aftermath of 11 September, they declared that cloning would in the future make terrorism redundant, as every victim could be cloned and so re-created.

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