Source – newscientist.com
– The world’s first cloned baby was born on 26 December, claims the Bahamas-based cloning company Clonaid. But there has been no independent confirmation of the claim.
The girl, named Eve by the cloning team, was said to have been born by Caesarean section at 1155 EST. The birth at an undisclosed location went “very well”, said Brigitte Boisselier, president of Clonaid. The company was formed in 1997 by the Raelian cult, which believes people are clones of aliens.
“The baby is very healthy. She is doing fine,” Roisselier told a press conference in Hollywood, Florida, on Friday. The seven-pound baby is a clone of a 31-year-old American woman, whose partner is infertile, she said.
Proving that the baby is a clone of another person would be possible by showing that their DNA is identical. Genetic tests on the baby and “mother” will now be carried out and the results will be available “in eight or nine days”, Boisselier said.
She told reporters: “You can still go back to your office and treat me as a fraud. You have one week to do that.” Boisselier added that Michael Guillen, science editor at ABC News and a former Harvard University mathematician, will carry out the genetic tests.
Many scientists are sceptical of Boisselier’s claim. Alan Trounson of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, says he does not believe the group has the necessary expertise to clone a person. “And nearly everything they have said in the past has never been confirmed by scientific investigation,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Maverick fertility scientist Severino Antinori, who claimed earlier in December that the first cloned baby would be born in January 2003, is also critical. “An announcement of this type has no scientific corroboration and risks creating confusion,” he said. “We keep up our scientific work without making announcements. I don’t take part in this … race.”
Opponents of human cloning point to the high rate of miscarriages of cloned animal fetuses, and the high rate of defects in live births. Boisselier has claimed that the large number of female cult members willing to act as surrogate mothers increased their chances of success.
“Irresponsible and repugnant”
Attempting to clone humans is “irresponsible and repugnant and ignores the overwhelming scientific evidence from seven mammalian species cloned so far,” Rudolph Jaenisch, a cloning expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told New Scientist previously.
In May, US-based fertility scientist Panos Zavos told the US Congress that five groups of scientists were rushing to be the first to produce the first cloned human baby.
Reproductive cloning – creating a baby rather than a cloned early embryo – is illegal in many countries. But in November, talks on a global ban were suspended, following a series of deadlocked United Nations meetings.