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Prove the birth: Experts

Outraged at clone claim, experts await proof to concede 2003 as year of the clone. The Raelian scientist's claim has evoked the British experts to demand an immediate global ban on human cloning.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2003 18:04 IST

Outraged at clone claim, scientific experts await proof to concede 2003 as year of the clone.

The claim by the Raelian sect to have produced first human clone has led to British experts demand an immediate global ban on human cloning. They say that although human cloning is illegal in Britain, the rest of western Europe and

the US, there are 170 nations across the world where it is not banned.

China and many parts of the former Soviet Union, for instance, have facilities where human cloning procedure can be carried out. Dr. Patrick Dixon, a specialist on the ethics of cloning, has pointed out that the international law on

cloning is so patchy that couples could legally conceive a clone in a country

where it is permissible and then return to their country where it may not be

allowed.

A report says that theoretically an egg could be re-programmed with new

DNA in Britain, before the doctor in charge and the host mother fly to a

country where there is no ban on human cloning. There it would just be a simple matter of implanting the embryo in the woman. She can then fly home.

Experts also point out that even in Britain not all human cloning procedures are banned. Cloning of human embryos is permitted for specific medical purposes, like for research on stem cells gleaned from embryos to help find cures and therapies for diseases like Parkinson’s.But, for this clinics are required to get a license from the Human Fertilisationand Embryology Authority(HFEA). It would not give permission fortreatment involving a cloned human child.

HFEA spokesperson is sceptic at the claim by thecult of having created a human clone. He said the research in animals hasshown several difficulties. Cloned animals have developed abnormalities. The cloned sheep Dolly for instance showed signs of early ageing.

Dr Lovell- Badge of the National Institute of Medical Research in London also said that it would be hard to clone successfully. But he said wider ethicalissues were less clear.

Personally, I don’t have a great problem with cloneswandering around, given we have identical twins, but I can understand why people find it a step too far,” he said.

A curiosity in the scientific community has been aroused. They await concrete proof before conceding that 2003 will be the Year of the Clone.