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Attack of the clones

CNN is reporting that an announcement from Clonaid regarding the birth of a human clone is forthcoming, while an Australian news site is reporting that the birth has already taken place.

A BABY has been born through cloning, French scientist and member of the Raelian sect Brigitte Boisselier has claimed.

The baby, a girl, was born on Thursday by caesarean section. The birth "went very well," said Boisselier, president of the human cloning society Clonaid, on the telephone.

First, I should state that I don't even believe the claims to be true.

The most telling facts about Clonaid come from this statement:

Clonaid, which calls itself the "first human cloning company," was founded by a religious group called the Raelians in 1997. Boisselier is a bishop in the Raelian movement, which professes that life on Earth was created through genetic engineering by extraterrestrials.

The Raelians believe their spiritual leader Rael is a direct descendant of these aliens. Rael told CNN in July 2001 that the long-term goal for human cloning is to live forever. Rael says cloning a baby is only the first step: Eventually the group wants to learn how to clone an adult, then "transfer the brain to the clone."

I don't mean to offend any of you extraterrestrials out there, but how the hell does this kind of technology get into the hands of a freak cult wihtout being regulated? Can any scientist with an agenda form a little club and start cloning babies to fit their needs?

Suppose a white power group hooks up with a fellow aryan nation lover who just happens to be a scientist with an extensive knowledge of cloning technology? This kind of power and science in the hands of the wrong people is an evil thing with the potential for disaster.

I don't know how much credence I put into the claims of a cult that believes they are aliens, but the thought is frightening.

Legally, there's very little to stop scientists from cloning. In January, the National Academy of Sciences recommended a ban on human cloning, but only four states -- California, Michigan, Louisiana and Rhode Island -- ban any type of cloning research.

The FDA claims it has jurisdiction over human cloning based on the Public Health Service and Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. It says it would regulate the cloning process like a drug.

The myriad of things that can go wrong with human cloning reads like a litany of sci-fi movie plot devices. No one knows what can happen to a perfectly normal-seeming baby clone once the infant starts to grow. Sheep, cows and mice - among other animals - have been cloned before and while they appeared normal at birth, developed problems later on.

Cloning humans while the technology is still new and unproven is akin to experimenting on babies. I am all for cloning research, as the benefits of cloning animals may lead to important scientific findings in the field of health and medicine, but as far as cloning humans, why create a life that may end up being one of sickness, deformities or even very short lived? Why take the risk with a human when you don't know what the consequences are yet?

Boisselier says the immediate purpose for cloning is to help infertile couples, but I can't imagine any couple so desperate to have a child that they would take all the risks that come with an unproven science to conceive a baby. And while Boisselier may try to pretend the motives of her group are altruistic, I repeat these words from above: Rael told CNN in July 2001 that the long-term goal for human cloning is to live forever. Rael says cloning a baby is only the first step: Eventually the group wants to learn how to clone an adult, then "transfer the brain to the clone.

Living forever in and of itself is one of the worst ideas known to man. The brain transfer theory seems like an attempt to create their own race or cult of like-minded, same-looking people. Put together, the possibilities are frightening.

The future is here, and I'm not liking it.

Comments

I read about this a week or two ago, and wasn't sure if it was true or not. I mean, really, a UFO cult with this tech?

For kickers, Rael is the name of the hero of the Genesis album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

"Rael Imperial Aerosol Kid,
Wipes his gun-he's forgotten what he did,
And the lamb lies down on Broadway."

If they really did clone someone, I'd be surprised. Then again, with money, anything is possible, I suppose.

Scott, I was just about to edit the post to put those lyrics in. I've been singing it all morning, since I first saw the name Rael.

I'm curious to see if they've really done it - if they have, the genie is out of the bottle and things really get interesting. As for discounting them for being a UFO cult, a lot of very smary people believe a lot of very strange things (some of them are just more acceptable in polite society than others).

As for living forever, well, sign me up - or at least until I'm ready to die. Which, assuming I have a functioning mind and half-decent body, won't be for a few hundred years - there's far too much to see and do in this universe to just resign myself to oblivion.

That's why I'm pickling myself with beer - nature's preservative!

As a fellow panelologist, I find harsh comparisons between this news and WoK vol ii by Byrne,Mignol;a and Giordano

lol

Too funny, I blogged about this too! You know, if it was around April 1st, instead of December, I would SWEAR that article was full-on bullshite. And it freaks me out that it's not.

Watched the "news conference" on FOX News about an hour ago... the baby's name is Eve... natch. And the woman giving the press conference, something Boisselier, said at one point when the press kept shouting out questions, "Hold on, this IS MY day, isn't it?". Then later on she said, "Wow. I've been talking for 30 minutes. Very proud of me!... oh, and you have been nice, too" ('cos they let her speak non-stop after her self-absorbed exclamation). I hope SHE wasn't cloned!
Also, a former ABC journalist, now free-lance (don't remember his name, but I've seen him before on ABC) is going to get independent scientists to "investigate"... I'm assuming that means DNA tests and the like? They said it should be about 9 days till there's "proof".

Cloning humans. Hmmm.

FWIW, I am a cell biologist working in the field of adult stem cells, so we think about this sort of stuff now and then.

It's basically a stupid idea. It's "frightening" not because it can be done, but because there are people who are so reckless or immoral or nutty that they would actually try.

There is a quite high risk that a person born from nuclear transfer ("cloning") techniques will suffer from defects. How high? Who knows--50%? 70%? 98%? What defects? Again, who knows, but the record from non-human mammals is not encouraging. Severe obesity in adulthood? Personality disorders? Metabolic problems? Aberrant eggs or sperm?

What kind of people would choose a method with these disadvantages to bring a person into the world?

"Cloning" doesn't clone the mind and personality, just the DNA, and imperfectly at that. Most of the major "epigenetic" influences, such as "DNA methylation", are very incompletely copied in nuclear transfer. So "Boys From Brazil" it ain't.

It's as if some group decided that woman members should drink heavily during their pregnancies. You'd end up with kids with fetal alcohol syndrome, some more heavily affected than others. And some kids would probably turn out pretty normal.

I should add that there are some excellent reasons for cloning animals, including basic science (genetics), pharmaceutical research, and preserving genetic diversity of endangered species.

When Dolly the sheep was cloned a decade or so ago, I didn't think that anyone would be heedless and callous enough to try this with people. Oops, wrong. Given the existence of moral bottom-dwellers with technical skills, I guess the question is "what do we do now?" Or, what laws should be passed to address the problem?

Ever read Lois McMaster Bujold's sci-fi novels in the Vorkosigan series? One planet has very highly developed cloning, among other biological activities, and one 'product' purchased by some was a new body- clone the child, raise it to suitable age, then cut out it's brain & move the client's brain in. Interesting discussion of destroying a human mind so someone can have a new body.

I don't think I like the idea of having a private Jackson's Whole playing with this.

AMac, I fully agree, unfortunately, this may not be fully realized for as long as 10-30 years as this first baby matures. By that time, thousands, if not millions, may have tried the irreversible cloning route, and massive lawsuits and misery will ensue.

Mark my words, this will not end well.

You know, anytime I hear a story that involves Scientology or any kind of cult who believes we are descended from aliens, my brain turns off. Yeah, they cloned a human all right...it looks suspiciously like a potato wrapped in tin foil.

i think recombinant dna is a great idea for getting rid of like downs syndrome and other nasty diseases, but immortality? ew. life is lame enough once.

frankly, tho, i'm fascinated by this claim. not because i think it's a good idea, just morbid curiosity. the baby is an exact twin of the mother. 'i think i'll wish another me on the world!' double eww. and haven't all of the cloned animals ended up being freakishly, dangerously obese and huge?

Tanya (2:51 PM):

Double eww about says it. These Keystone kloners aren't going to get what they think they want, unless they're gung ho for suffering children. The most insightful biologist to speak about the technical issues of human cloning is Rudolf Jaenisch of MIT:

"On March 28 [2001], I testified before the House ... at a hearing entitled “Issues Raised by Human Cloning Research.” ... Our experience with animal cloning allows us to predict with a high degree of confidence that few cloned humans will survive to birth and, of those, the majority will be abnormal. The most likely cause of abnormal clone development is faulty reprogramming of the genome ... Faulty reprogramming does not lead to chromosomal or genetic alterations of the genome, so methods that are used in routine prenatal screening to detect chromosomal or genetic abnormalities in a fetus cannot detect these reprogramming errors. There are no available methods now or in the foreseeable to future to assess whether the genome of cloned embryo has been correctly reprogrammed. The American Society for Cell Biology stated in 1998 its clear opposition to the cloning of a human being and remains a steadfast opponent today."

The technology to clone is available in any decent fertility clinic. It is not a hard thing to do--- although, as others above have said, it is very unlikely to work well.

But like I said, the process of creating a clone is shockingly easy. I don't have a problem with cloning, but the ease at which it could be done is kind of amazing.

Anyway, point being that this is not a technoloy that can be regulated. Nothing short of destroying the Raelians and like-minded groups will be able to stop them. It's just too easy. The tools neccesary can be used for so many other non-controversial uses that controlling it would be useless. Too easy to get past the controls.

Why would I want another biologic body? I used this one up way too soon. If I had known I was gonna live this long bla bla bla...

Nope, I'm holding out for the full cyber treatment. Put this sick mind in a titanium shell and cut me loose.

MANKIND BE AFRAID!!!

BWAA_HA_HA_HA

Mike, what if the titanium shell looks remarkably like a bowling ball? I doubt we'd have much to fear then unless you plan to convert the two guys in the corner into a spare.

As an infertile person, the thought of cloning sickens me. Why would I want to clone myself & put my child (me?) through all the same bullshit I went through (again). Between the crohns disease an being unable to carry a pregnancy, I wouldn’t wish me on anyone! especially me!

Not for nothing, but as your sister, I wouldn't wish you on anyone either.

Shut up, you love me.

yeah, whatever! too busy laughing for a real comeback.

Clones of Jo-Anne???? RUUUUUUUNNNNNN!!!!

what?! and a clone of lisa would be better? I think not!!

CLONING
"Ethic" is simply a last-gasp attempt by deist conservatives and Orthodox dogmatic to keep humanity in ignorance and obscurantism, through the well tried fermentation of fear, the fear of science and new technologies.

There is nothing glorious about what our ancestors call history, it is simply a succession of mistakes, intolerance and violations.

On the contrary, let us embrace Science and the new technologies unfettered, for it is these which will liberate mankind from the myth of god, and free us from our age old fears, from disease, death and the sweat of labor.
Rael