While scientists have dismissed claims of a cloned baby for want of cogent evidence so far, the announcement has triggered a renewed ethical debate.
The conservative groups are once again in the forefront with shrill demands for an outright ban on human cloning.
A divided US Congress has been wrestling with the issue for more than a year. The House of Representatives promptly passed a bill for a total ban, but the Senate stalled the move. Many Senators favoured therapeutic cloning, as opposed to reproductive cloning, in the search for cures to some intractable diseases.
Close on the heels of Clonaid’s claims about cloning the world’s first human baby, Republican Senator Sam Brownback said that he would soon reintroduce legislation for a comprehensive ban.
The White House is all for a ban on human cloning. Spokesman Scott McLellan said on Friday that President Bush, like most Americans, finds human cloning “deeply troubling”. Clonaid’s announcement, regardless of the scepticism, underscores the need for the new Congress to ban all human cloning, the spokesman said.
Britain, Germany, Japan and Israel are among countries that have banned human cloning. In several other countries, legislation or guidelines to prohibit it
are still pending.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has indicated that it will investigate whether Clonaid conducted its purported work within the US. Though there is no
formal ban yet, FDA’s regulations in force since 1998 orbid any work related to human cloning without its permission.
Conaid’s scientific director Brigitte Boisselier has not disclosed where the cloned baby was born or where her organisation has its laboratory. Its earlier laboratory in West Virginia was shut down last year after the first round of controversy over Clonaid’s activities.