Last week, the Discovery Channel in the UK broadcast a documentary on human cloning, in which andrologist Panos Zavos claims to have implanted multiple women with clonal embryos in an undisclosed Mideast country. Two video clips are below.
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.
Since then, in August 2004, he claimed to have created a clonal embryo from three dead people and a cow's egg. He never produced evidence.
Zavos's latest claims received some coverage in the UK, but fortunately little on this side of the Atlantic. At the Science Progress blog, Andrew Plemmons Pratt notes
In the current media landscape, this sort of headline grab has significant potential reach, but the dubious history of Zavos and his former collaborators should travel with it.
Regardless of the location of Zavos's purported activities, his assertions highlight that the US remains almost the only industrialized nation without a ban on human reproductive cloning, a practice that President Obama recently called "dangerous [and] profoundly wrong."