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Cloning Advocates at the National Academy of Sciences

Genetic Crossroads
August 18th, 2001

On August 7, three scientists who say they intend to begin cloning human
children appeared at a widely covered session of a National Academy of
Sciences (NAS) conference. Fertility researchers Panos Zavos and Severino
Antinori shared a podium with Brigitte Boisellier, the Raelian scientist
who claims to be working on cloning the dead child of a wealthy couple.

Most, though disturbingly far from all, of the biomedical scientists and
bioethicists on the NAS panel said they oppose the production of cloned
children. But many of them indicated that they believe human cloning is
unethical only because it is too physically dangerous at this time. Much
of the discussion thus focused on whether the technical difficulties
that now accompany the cloning of animals can be overcome, so that
attempts at human cloning could be considered safe.

The NAS is preparing policy recommendations on human cloning for a
report scheduled for release by the end of September.

The presence of the "cowboy cloners" at the NAS conference, coupled
with the failure of others in attendance to clearly condemn human
cloning, serves to normalize the idea of cloning as a technique of
assisted reproduction.

French Health Minister Bernard Kouchner, who co-founded the Nobel
Prize-winning group Doctors Without Borders and who is calling on
the United Nations to draft an international treaty banning human
cloning (see below), said of the NAS event, "I simply fail to fathom
how distinguished scientists of the kind present in Washington found
nothing better to do than talk of the complexities or risks of such
an enterprise."



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