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DNA tests on human clone halted

Head of the Raelian sect Claude Vorilhon has halted tests that would confirm their claim of having created the first human clone 'Eve'. Earlier, a judge in Florida had ruled that the baby Eve should be taken from her family and put under court ptotection. Vorilhon has expressed serious objections to the court's decision.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2003 18:01 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

The head of the Raelian sect, which claims to have created a human clone, said he had ordered the halt of planned DNA tests on the baby that would establish the veracity of the claims.

Claude Vorilhon, who has assumed the name Rael, told CNN late Thursday that he had stopped the test because of planned legal proceedings in a Florida court to get the baby placed under court protection.

According to CNN, Vorilhon asked the network to address him as "his holiness" during the interview.

The Raelians have been under international scrutiny since a company it formed, Clonaid, announced last week that a baby cloned from her mother and nicknamed "Eve", had been born, but gave no proof to back its claims.

Vorilhon said he had called the head of Clonaid, French scientist Brigitte Boisselier, to ask that promised DNA tests be halted. The tests were to be organised by a US journalist, Michael Guillen, and the results released early next week.

"The bad news two days ago was that a judge in Florida signed a paper saying that the baby Eve should be taken from the family, from her mother," Vorilhon told CNN.

"I called her (Boisselier) immediately because to take away this poor baby from a mother, I think this is completely crazy, just because she was cloned. So I called Dr. Boisselier, and I said, If I was you, I would not test anything."

Florida lawyer Bernard Siegel said Thursday that he had asked for the unknown "parents" of baby "Eve", and the principals involved in her birth, to be summoned before a Florida court to determine if she should be placed under court protection.

He said a juvenile division court in Broward County had set a hearing for January 22.

"The legal custodian -- the parents -- are required to be there, as well as the respondents, Clonaid and Rael," he said.

The Raelian sect, which believes humans were cloned from aliens who landed on Earth 25,000 years ago, set up Clonaid to carry out clone research.

Boisselier announced last week that a baby girl cloned from her 31-year-old US mother was born on December 26 by Caesarian section at a hospital outside the United States. Boisselier is a senior member of the Raelians.

Siegel told AFP he had petitioned the court, in a personal capacity, to place "Eve" under the court's protection.

"I was concerned that, if this (the cloning) is true, this child is an abused child, that it could have some serious genetic, fatal problems and that the child was being exploited by Clonaid," he said.

Siegel's petition to name the court as guardian, was lodged Tuesday in Circuit Court, juvenile division, in Fort Lauderdale, north of Miami.

"The purpose of my lawsuit is to appoint a guardian for this child. Because I perceived that this child, more than any other child in the world, needs legal protection under the United States courts," said Siegel.

Meanwhile, Clonaid spokeswoman Nadine Gary told AFP that the parents were afraid the baby would be taken away from them.

She also told AFP that US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors had made inquiries at the organization's Las Vegas, Nevada headquarters. "We referred them to our lawyer," she said.

The FDA has said it is looking into Clonaid and its activities but that there is not yet a formal investigation.

First Published: Jan 04, 2003 15:34 IST

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