|08-06-2001, 01:31 PM||#1|
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: New Brunswick, NJ, USA
Critics warn of cloning risks
Critics warn of cloning risks
August 6, 2001 Posted: 1:16 PM EDT (1716 GMT)
The team that cloned Dolly does not support human tests
ROME, Italy -- Controversial plans by an Italian doctor to try to create the world's first cloned human baby have been fiercely criticised by politicians, ethical groups and scientists alike.
Professor Severino Antinori, who will unveil his plans before the National Association of Sciences in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, hopes to begin a human cloning programme in November using 200 infertile couples.
But critics say that the process -- used to create Dolly the sheep in 1997 - carries a very high risk of miscarriage and deformity.
Even Dr Ian Wilmut, who led the team that created Dolly, said it took 277 tries to get it right in a sheep and does not support human cloning.
Ethical and religious groups argue Antinori's team and other cloning researchers are trying to "play God."
Biochemist Art Caplan, of the University of Pennsylvania, told CNN: "This procedure is just not safe."
He said of the animals cloned so far, some had shown abnormal growth rates, others have had abnormalities, and some have unexpectedly died.
"I have to say, if you looked at the animal work that's been done, and the people who really know this procedure of cloning -- that is, veterinarians who try it in animals -- the procedure is just not safe.
"I'm really worried that what they're going to do here is make a dead or deformed baby, not a healthy one."
Last week, Bush said human cloning presented profound moral issues and he welcomed the approval of congressional ban as "a strong ethical statement."
A White House statement released last week said: "The administration unequivocally is opposed to the cloning of human beings either for reproduction or research."
It added: "The moral and ethical issues posed by human cloning are profound and cannot be ignored in the quest for scientific discovery."
The UK's Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has also added its voice to the growing criticism over Antinori's plans.
General Secretary Paul Tully told the Press Association: "The parallel procedures used in therapeutic cloning are paving the way for reproductive cloning, however vociferous the protestations from the Government and British scientists that it is not their intention."
He also warned that there was a high risk many cloned babies would suffer health problems or be born with genetic defects.
If couples could travel abroad to countries where the process was legal then it would be "implausible" for Britain to continue banning it, he added.
The British Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority said reproductive cloning was illegal in the UK any British doctors working on such a project abroad would come under "intense scrutiny."
"We do not have jurisdiction over people going abroad for treatment or for scientists going abroad. We licence IVF centres in this country," a spokesman said.
"The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act says the person responsible for holding a licence needs to be of suitable character.
"If someone was doing that sort of treatment, which is scientifically risky and ethically unacceptable, we would look at their centre very closely and they would come under intense scrutiny."