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Human cloning: 'One shouldn't do this'

'Essentially using humans as guinea pigs'

'Essentially using humans as guinea pigs'

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Brigitte Boisselier, the scientific director of Clonaid, announced the first cloned baby has been born.
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THE RAELIAN MOVEMENT
Founded:  1973, France

Founder: Claude Vorilhon, who took the name Rael; his book is "The Final Message"

Basic tenet: The old Hebrew phrase "Elohim" -- usually translated as a name for God -- should have been interpreted as a reference to non-Earthlings "from the sky."  These entities are, Raelians say, responsible for the creation of life on Earth.

Membership: The organization says it comprises some 40,000 members worldwide, with highest concentrations in France, Canada and Japan. Outside researchers have suggested the membership may be smaller.

Source: The University of Virginia's New Religious Movements source

(CNN) -- The assertion Friday by Clonaid that a newborn girl is a clone renews the debate over the ethics of cloning and what legal ramifications, if any, will result.

Many animal cloners -- including Ian Wilmut, the Scottish researcher who successfully cloned the first animal, Dolly the sheep, in 1997 -- disapprove of human cloning. Wilmut has said it took 276 failed attempts before Dolly was successfully cloned.

"It is not responsible at this stage to even consider the cloning of humans," said Rudolf Jaenisch, a biologist at MIT's Whitehead Institute for Biological Research, which clones mice.

Janeisch said that even if a human clone appears healthy, it may not be once it gets older. Cloning a human at this point, he said, without knowing more about why things go wrong, is "essentially using humans as guinea pigs, and one shouldn't do this."

According to Dr. Jon Hill, a veterinarian who successfully cloned cows at Texas A&M University, even clones who appear normal at birth often develop problems afterward.

"Their livers, their lungs, their heart, their blood vessels are often abnormal after birth," Hill said.

Few legal prohibitions

Legally, there's very little to stop scientists from cloning. In January, the National Academy of Sciences recommended a ban on human cloning, but only four states -- California, Michigan, Louisiana and Rhode Island -- ban any type of cloning research.

Alta Charo, bioethicist and associate dean of University of Wisconsin Law School, is not convinced the human cloning has taken place and believes the event is "medical grandstanding."

"If it (human cloning) has occured, it is an irresponsible experiment on human beings before you have proof on other animals to determine if it is safe," Charo said. "And the first and most important principle of medical ethics is that you do not do harm."

The FDA claims it has jurisdiction over human cloning based on the Public Health Service and Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. It says it would regulate the cloning process like a drug.

Clonaid was founded by a fringe religious movement called the Raelians, the doctrine of which asserts that life on Earth was created by extraterrestrials.

They are not the only group claiming to actively try to clone a human.

Italian doctor Severino Antinori made several announcements in recent months, claiming that a woman was carrying a human clone that would be born in January 2003. And former University of Kentucky professor Panos Zavos has also announced plans to clone a human, but he told CNN earlier this year he had not successfully created an embryo yet.

Scientists and bioethicists have questioned whether any of these groups have the ability to clone a human. Art Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, has said in the past that "we don't know how" to accomplish human cloning.



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