This is a transcript of AM broadcast at 0800 AEST on local radio.
Human cloning attempts
AM - Saturday, March 10, 2001 8:10
COMPERE: A team of Italian-based researchers led by a controversial
fertility specialist says it’s about to begin attempts to clone
the first human being. The team says its work will only be used to
help infertile couples, and it claims it has 600 couples, including
some from Australia, willing to take part. The group says it’s
working full speed to produce a human clone within two years. It
says it has a moral responsibility to proceed with the work.
But as Michael Brissenden reports from Rome, the research has been
condemned by the Church and by many other medical professionals.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: They’ve been making history in Rome for
thousands of years. And now an international team of genetic specialists
are ensuring that ancient capital will have a significant place in
modern history as well.
PANOS ZAVOS: We do intend to obviously clone the first human being.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Panos Zavos, a Greek-American doctor, is part of
the team lead by the controversial Italian fertility specialist Severino
Antonori. Dr Avri ben Abraham from Israel is another.
AVRI BEN ABRAHAM: Science must be daring and it must be innovative.
Human therapeutic cloning has now moved from the shadows into the
forefront. We have enough knowledge, enough sophistication and advancement
in science and technology to break the rules of nature. Now is the
time. We are going to do it. And it’s a joint effort.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: From the successful cloning of Dolly the sheep,
such a move was just a matter of time. The research team says this
is just the next logical development of medical technology to help
infertile couples who want to have children and to help those with
currently incurable diseases.
The process will involve taking cells from the father, implanting
them into an egg that will then be transplanted to a woman’s
womb to grow. The child will be an exact clone of the man.
This is clearly controversial science, fraught with ethical and moral
Dolly the sheep might look normal, but in animals at least, she’s
the exception. Ninety-five per cent of all animal clones end in disaster.
Most are born well over size and die within the first two weeks.
Many have serious physical deformities as well.
Most doctors believe the same problems will plague any efforts to
clone humans. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of people who think
a medical advancement that should never be pursued.
SEVERINI ANTONORI: [Excerpt not translated] ...
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: At times Dr Antonori had trouble controlling the
heated exchanges from his own conference floor. But Antonori is no
strange to controversy. Seven years ago he helped a 62-year-old woman
give birth using IVF. Rosanna Delacorta is now nearly 70. Her son Ricardo
is a happy, energetic little boy. But even she seems reluctant to support
the brave next step of genetic engineering.
ROSANNA DELACORTA: [Translation follows] ...
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: ‘I don’t want to judge anybody’ she
told me. ‘I have suffered so much from this judgement myself.
But the whole issue is too big for me.’
Dr Antonori’s work has outraged conservative Italian society
and of course the Vatican. The Pope says the whole process is morally
Antonori’s team says it will begin work in the next few weeks
in an unnamed Mediterranean country and will hope to have produced
the first human clone within two years.
COMPERE: Michael Brissenden reporting from Rome.