Cloning Humans

By George Grow

This is the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

A private group of scientists has announced plans to make an exact copy of a human being. An American member of the team says he and the others will soon begin a serious effort to clone humans. Panos Zavos says the team hopes to produce the world's first cloned baby within the next two years.

He announced the project at a conference last month in the American city of Lexington, Kentucky. Doctor Zavos is an expert on human reproduction at the University of Kentucky. He works at the Kentucky Center for Reproductive Medicine and Invitro Fertilization.

In recent years, scientists have produced exact genetic copies of sheep and a few other animals. They created these clones from a single cell of an adult animal.

Three years ago, another American doctor, Richard Seed, announced plans to clone a human being. However, there is no evidence that he was successful.

Doctor Zavos says the new international group plans to offer human cloning only to women currently not able to become pregnant and produce children. He says the effort will be to assist people who want to have their own biological child.

The technology would be similar to that used to clone animals. It would involve clearing genetic material from a woman's egg. Doctors then would place genetic material from the woman's husband into the egg before putting it in the woman's uterus.

Doctor Zavos says his group plans to do its work in a country near the Mediterranean Sea. He did not name the country. He says an Italian reproductive expert, Severino Antinori, is leading the team. Doctor Antinori has led successful efforts to help many older women become pregnant. He is known for establishing pregnancies in women as old as sixty.

Many medical experts and other groups are opposed to the idea of cloning humans. Several countries ban or restrict work on human cloning. Several doctors criticized the announcement by Doctor Zavos. They say doctors do not know if cloning humans is possible or safe. They say it would be irresponsible to attempt to clone a human being. That is because the chances of success are too small and the risks are too great.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by George Grow.

Voice of America Special English