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Three more clones due

An unidentified woman's womb was torn to bring the first human clone to life late on Thursday. While the DNA proof to confirm the claim is still awaited, Dr Brigitte said three more babies are due by February.

india Updated: Jul 01, 2003 16:48 IST
S Rajagopalan
S Rajagopalan

A company associated with a controversial religious sect claimed to have produced on Thursday the world's first cloned human baby. Its scientific director Brigitte Boisselier made the announcement in Florida on Friday, but did not offer any immediate DNA proof to back the claim.

“The baby was born at 11.55 am yesterday...We will call her Eve,” Boisselier announced at a press conference. A French scientist and activist of the Raelian sect, which believes life on Earth was created by extra-terrestrials through genetic engineering, she said the 7-pound baby girl was doing fine and her parents were very happy.

Neither the baby nor the parents were produced at the press meet. Boisselier also refused to disclose the city or country where the cloned baby was born. All she would say was that the baby’s parents were American citizens. “We used the egg of the mother, a 31-year-old American,” she said.

While the scientific community has greeted the announcement with great scepticism, Boisselier said her company Clonaid was ready for an independent evaluation.

She invited a freelance journalist, Michael Guillen, to coordinate the evaluation. Guillen said he has accepted on two conditions: That no strings will be attached to the offer and that he will assemble his own team of independent experts.

The baby will be out of the hospital in three days and the evaluation should be over within the next eight or nine days, Boisselier said.

Boisselier went on to announce that a second cloned baby is due to be born in Europe next week. “Three more babies are due by end of January or early February.” The prospective parents in two cases are said to be in Asia and one in North America.

Attacking the “appalling and scientifically irresponsible announcement”, scientist Robert Lanza said: “This group has no scientific track record. It has not cloned even a mouse or rabbit.”

Lanza’s Advanced Cell Technologies, which claims to have cloned a human embryo, believes in therapeutic cloning as opposed to reproductive cloning.

The Raelians

It’s a 55,000-strong cult that believes aliens created humans by cloning themselves. The group is led by Claude Vorilhon. A former racing driver, he calls himself Rael. He is now telling followers the aliens will return to Earth by 2035.

More clones coming

Italian fertility expert Dr Severino Antinori’s clone was due last month. Not much has been heard lately about the third project.

First Published: Dec 28, 2002 10:06 IST