US Congress hears testimony on human cloning issue
Washington (dpa) - A scientist told United States Congress members
Wednesday that he plans to use human cloning as a method to help
Panayoitis Zavos said that he is working with an Italian fertility
specialist to establish a project to conduct the cloning in an unnamed
country in the Mediterranean region. He rejected suggestions that
cloning could lead to severe birth defects and lethal failures in
the human infants created.
"We have no intention to step over dead bodies or deformed babies
to accomplish this," Zavos told a subcommittee of the U.S. House
energy and commerce committee.
A procession of mainstream medical and scientific witnesses told
the committee that current methods for cloning larger mammals would
inevitably lead to terrible defects in humans.
"It is simply too dangerous technically," said Thomas Okarma,
president of biotechnology firm Geron Corporation, "and raises
too many ethical and moral questions."
In cloning, genetic material in the nucleus of an egg cell would
be removed and replaced with DNA from an adult cell. Experiments
in other mammals - famously first with "Dolly," a
sheep in Scotland - have resulted in unusually high rates of defects
and other problems, such as still births and miscarriages.
Twelve countries already ban human cloning. Under U.S. policy, no
federal money is permitted for human cloning, but private efforts
could still be pursued.
Subcommittee chairman James Greenwood, a Pennsylvania Republican,
asked, "The possible cloning of human beings is now not relegated
to the world of fiction, and the question to the world is this -
what should we do with this science?"