Amsterdam, Jan. 4 (Reuters): A cult said today the world’s second cloned baby had been born to a Dutch lesbian, but cloning experts swiftly dismissed the claim as a laughable stunt.
“A baby girl was born yesterday evening. The baby is healthy and the mother too,” Bart Overvliet, head of the Raelian movement’s branch in the Netherlands, said over telephone.
The woman is now in the Netherlands with her partner.
“I don’t know where it was born, but they are in Holland now. The birth could be at home, but it could be in another country in a clinic,” he said.
But Harry Griffin, head of Britain’s Roslin Institute, which cloned the first adult mammal, Dolly the sheep, in 1996, said the group had provided no proof that two cloned babies existed.
“There is no reason to believe this is anything other than a long drawn-out publicity stunt,” he said.
Overvliet said the child was created by Clonaid, the cloning firm that said it had organised the birth of the first human clone, named Eve, to a 31-year-old American on December 26.
“The baby is in good health and it was born by a natural birth,” US Clonaid spokeswoman Nadine Gray said.
Clonaid’s initial claim sparked widespread scepticism among scientific experts, and the company has yet to provide DNA samples or other evidence to support its assertions.
Severino Antinori, a controversial Italian fertility doctor involved in separate human cloning projects, said he thought the report of the second clone’s birth was as fake as the first. “This news makes me laugh. It’s a mystery to me how anybody could believe these people who have no scientific track record. It is an absolute lie,” he said.
He declined to give news on his own cloning projects.
Clonaid is backed by the Raelian cult that believes aliens landed on Earth 25,000 years ago and started the human race through cloning. But the French founder of the movement, Claude Vorilhon, who calls himself “Rael”, said yesterday Clonaid and the Raelians were “very different” and he could not personally vouch for the accuracy of Clonaid’s claims.
Overvliet, a 45-year-old Amsterdam salesman, said the Dutch woman involved in the latest birth plans to raise the baby with her partner and is not a member of the Raelian movement.
Cloning a human is forbidden in the Netherlands but nothing in the law forbids the birth of a cloned baby, a spokesman for the Dutch health ministry said.