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In the Crossfire

Clonaid pulling a stunt or a stunner?

Boisselier
Boisselier: "The images that have been given about human cloning are images of fading copies or armies of clones or defects of animals. That's all we have shown the public."

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Brigitte Boisselier, CEO of Clonaid, stunned the world by claiming that a woman had given birth to the first-ever cloned human being, a little girl they're calling Eve.

Is this dangerous science or the wave of the future? Boisselier stepped into the "Crossfire" on Monday with hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala to answer some of the many questions surrounding this story.

CARLSON: Boisselier, you may know that a lot of people don't believe that this is true, that you've done this. They point out that your group has never cloned anything. It's never cloned a rabbit and now you're claiming to have cloned a human being, sort of like claiming to launch a missile without ever having made a paper airplane.

Is it true and do you understand why people don't believe you?

BOISSELIER: Well, they still have one week to doubt. After that they won't be able to doubt any longer. But what's the most important thing is they forgot that this is a private company. And the reason we didn't publish yet is because we want to preserve what we've been developing in the company but also, in terms of facing the public, the scientists are not ready yet. They are watching very closely what is going on today with, you know, all the development of the story and the FDA coming to some of our places. The police in South Korea are investigating some of our premises.

It's not that easy today to be scientists saying, "Yes, we have been doing human cloning." Although, I mean, you know, when you produce a baby and you help some parents to have a child, I don't see what is monstrous about it. But that's the life we have today, it's not that easy.

BEGALA: Well, Dr. Boisselier, the critics are not simply laymen like myself or Tucker. They include some of the most eminent folks in the scientific community.

Let me play you a (quote) from one of them. This is Dr. Arthur Caplan. I know you're a chemist yourself. Dr. Caplan is the director of the Center For Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the premiere bioethicists in the country.

Let me show you what Dr. Caplan had to say about your alleged research.

(Videotape begins)

CAPLAN: We have a technical term in ethics for groups like Clonaid. We call them wacky. My prediction is over the next couple of weeks they're going to string the story along, get the name of the cult out there, look for new members, draw more people in to give them money. I think their idea is basically to use this to push themselves forward and, I think, so far pretty effectively.

(End of videotape)

BEGALA: Your response to Dr. Caplan?

BOISSELIER: Well, I believe that Dr. Caplan is using that technique to push himself up. And that's probably why he wants everybody to do the same.

I have been saying for the last five years that I will do it. And I did it. And I said when it's done I will announce the word and I did it. Now you want proof, you will get that from an independent expert.

What can I say? I'm sorry. It is true that this is related to my belief. It's true that it's because Rael said 30 years ago that it's possible to do it, that we pushed that science, but we do believe this is a science to help humanity. And I'd like to compare my science that provides life, that provides a baby to some parents who have been dying to get one and to compare that with the science that is dealing some bomb and pushing it to war.

CARLSON: Wait, wait, wait...

BOISSELIER: I believe if we compare them both, I'm pretty well-balanced.

CARLSON: Wait. Before we hear your foreign policy views, tell us this, though. If this is not a public relations gimmick, in an effort to push forward your organization and give it publicity, then why didn't you wait until the existence of this child could be verified with the DNA test and the photograph. Why didn't you wait until then in order to announce it?

BOISSELIER: OK, well, we have to go back to the last few years. You have to remember that for at least four years I have been very badly mistreated. People talking about Dr. Frankenstein and all this kind of thing. And they were saying, "Well, will you tell us when the baby is born?" And I always said, "Yes, I will." And I always planned that the day after the birth I will do this announcement.

I thought that at this time I would have with me the parents, the scientists, the independent expert, everybody lined up with me and facing the world with that. This was not the case for very good reason. I mean, these people are looking very closely at the development because they don't want to get public yet. They might decide in a day, in a week, in a month to become public and I hope they will because I'm feeling sometimes a little bit lonely.

But this is the situation. So I said I would do it and I did it. You don't like it, that's your problem. But I did what I wanted to do. Now you can take it as a PR relation...

BEGALA: I'm sorry to interrupt. But let me press that point. I'm sorry, but it seems to me that you're not making very much sense.

The question Tucker had asked was, "Why didn't you have, as we say in America, all your ducks in a row?" I mean, I don't think you can go public and claim a remarkable scientific breakthrough with enormous ethical complications and ramifications and then plead privacy on the part of some of the people who you say could verify it? I mean, I think it frankly doesn't hold water.

BOISSELIER: Well, imagine [for] one moment that these people were with me last Friday. Do you think today their life will be the same? Do you think they could still have this baby at home and be quiet with the baby? I'm not sure.

They really thought about it for a month or two because before it was decided they will be next to me. And then they changed their mind. Now, should I wait until they are ready to go public? What was the point in waiting? I said I would do it the moment the baby is born.

CARLSON: Well, I suppose the point in waiting, Dr. Boisselier, to prove that it's actually true and not just a stunt or a gimmick.

I want to show you a poll that was recently taken earlier this year by "USA Today" and it asked Americans what they thought of human cloning.

Here are the results.

Is it morally acceptable to clone a human being? Seven percent say yes. Is it morally wrong? Ninety percent say it is morally wrong to do what you claim to have done. Now, I wonder why people feel that way. Why do you think the vast majority of people the world over cringe at the idea of human cloning?

BOISSELIER: Well, this is very simple. The images that have been given about human cloning are images of fading copies or armies of clones or defects of animals. That's all we have shown the public.

It is clear that it has nothing to do with human cloning. Human cloning is about a baby. We are producing a baby to parents.

And, you know, I've been trying to change this image for the last couple of years. Slowly it is changing. I can tell that when walking in the street people are stopping me and congratulating me and saying this is good what you did. You know, and I have parents who would like to have a child that are calling me.

So I know there is a reaction that is more positive than the one on this show here. But I understand the public's [reaction] if they are told that this baby will be a monster or that this baby will have a bad life because Dolly the sheep has some arthritis. They forget to say Dolly is six years old and the sheep that gave the cell to Dolly died at the age of 3. So, the fact is that Dolly has doubled her lifetime.

This is not about the press or what the media has been telling the world. When we talk about defects in a cow, for example, we forget to say that they have exactly the same defect when they do in-vitro fertilization of a cow. So it's not a problem related to cloning, but public opinion is has been drowned out by all these images that are wrong. The debate about cloning has never been rational. The rational aspect of it is to say we're dealing with a baby that indeed carries the same genes that the mother or the father, but she will be a completely different individual.



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