First Japanese clone is born

The controversial Clonaid group said a third cloned baby had been born to a Japanese couple, but gave no proof of its claims. This time it is a baby boy of a couple in their 40s. The baby was born in Japan on January 22.

india Updated: Apr 14, 2003 15:43 IST

The Clonaid group, run by the controversial Raelian sect, said on Thursday a third cloned baby has been born to a Japanese couple, but as with its previous announcements, offered no proof.

"The third baby was born in Japan on the 22nd in the morning," Clonaid president Brigitte Boisselier said at a news conference here from which some reporters were barred for critical coverage of the sect.

"This baby was a baby boy. He was carried by a surrogate mother. He's the baby of a couple in their 40s.

"He's the clone of a baby boy who died at the age of two about 18 months ago. This baby died after an accident. We had the time to preserve cells before his death," she said, noting the dead baby had been the couple's child.

The so-called cloned baby, who weighted seven pounds at birth and whose name was not released, "is doing fine as well," Boisselier said, noting that a surrogate mother was used because the mother was 41 and her age could make a miscarriage more likely.

Clonaid has refused to give evidence for its claims to have produced three human clones, and international scientists have expressed widespread skepticism.

Boisselier said the previous two babies - both girls - were born to North American and European parents.

When asked about proof of the group's claims, she said the lesbian couple who are the parents of the second baby girl are considering introducing her to the public.

"In a few days, the mothers will make themselves public," Boisselier said.

She said the parents of the first, a girl named Eve, have moved and she will have no contact with them except through their paediatrician because of a Florida court case against Clonaid.

"Eve will not be accessed because Eve is now hiding somewhere, she said, noting that the parents "will not declare Eve a US citizen ... (and) we may have to go up to the Supreme Court to be recognized as a human being that should stay with her parents."

For the third baby, the couple is waiting to see how authorities react, Boisselier said, saying Japanese law "prohibits cloning in Japan but it doesn't prohibit to do cloning for a Japanese couple."

She said both Clonaid and the couple preserved some tissue from the dead baby and an "independent expert will have access to the samples that are frozen and to the baby ... so hopefully we could do that in 5-10 days."

A picture of the third cloned baby would be posted on the company's website, Boisselier added.

She said the fourth cloned baby would be born in Asia and the fifth in North America in February.

First Published: Apr 14, 2003 15:43 IST