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Reported Efforts to Clone Human Beings

July 29th, 2004

Three sets of scientists claim to be actively involved in efforts to clone a human being:

Severino Antinori

Antinori is an Italian fertility researcher who became known in the early 1990s for his controversial work in helping post-menopausal women have children. In early 2001, he announced his intention to begin active efforts intended to lead to the birth of a clonal child. In 2002 and 2003, he made several inconsistent claims that clonal pregnancies were underway. In May 2004, he said that at least three babies had been born, but that he had acted only as an "advisor" at the cloning. Although his medical and research credentials make his claims to be engaged in a serious cloning effort at least somewhat plausible, there is currently no evidence to support his announcements.

Panos Zavos - http://www.aia-zavos.com, http://www.zavos.org

Zavos and Antinori were partners in an effort to create a cloned child until May 2002, when Zavos disassociated himself from Antinori's work and claims. In May 2002, Zavos indicated that he had assembled a 9-person team of scientists, located at two sites (one in Europe and the other "somewhere between Greece and India") and had screened and approved 12 couples for participation in cloning experiments. In April 2003, he published a picture said to be of a four-day-old cloned embryo, but the peer-reviewed analysis he promised did not follow. In January 2004, he announced that he had implanted a cloned embryo but two weeks later he said that a pregnancy had not resulted. Zavos holds a doctorate in physiology and was formerly a professor at the University of Kentucky. With his wife, he runs a fertility clinic in Lexington. In June 2004, he announced he was also opening an office in England.

The Raelians and Clonaid - http://www.rael.org, http://www.clonaid.com

On December 27, 2002, the Raelians made headlines worldwide with their announcement that the first cloned infant, nicknamed Eve, had been born to an American woman in an undisclosed overseas location. Former French race car driver and Raelian leader Claude Vorilhon later told the press that the birth of the cloned infant "may not have happened" and hinted that the entire affair had been an orchestrated hoax to bring international recognition to the Raelians.

The Raelians are an international religious sect based on the belief that life on Earth was created through genetic engineering by extraterrestrials, and that cloning technology will eventually enable people to achieve eternal life. Based in Montreal, the Raelians claim to be the world's largest UFO-related organization, with 55,000 members in 84 countries. Clonaid, their human cloning "brand name" (not technically a company), is operated by Dr. Brigitte Boisselier. She has continued to announce clonal births, to parents of at least a dozen nationalities, but none of the children have been seen in public or underwent DNA testing.

  Reported covert efforts to clone a human being:

"The Creator" and "The Client"

In the February 2001 issue of Wired, reporter Brian Alexander recounted his conversations with a 30-year old scientist with "a Ph.D. in molecular biology, a list of peer-reviewed publications, and a research job at a big-name university," who had begun work intended to lead to reproductive cloning. Alexander also described his dinner with the sponsor of the effort, a "Western European businessman" whose son had died of cancer. According to Alexander, the "Creator" had already secured the cooperation of an IVF clinic in a major Asian city. Those involved planned to implant clonal embryos in 5 to 10 surrogate mothers, in the hopes that one would be healthy and come to term. See Brian Alexander, "(You)2," Wired (Vol. 9, No. 2, February 2001), http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.02/projectx.html


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