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Italy ratifies international ban on human cloningy has ratified a European ban on human cloning.

The move follows an Italian fertility doctor's bid to clone a human being.

The lower house of parliament ratified the ban on a 385-3 vote, with 13 lawmakers abstaining.

The ban is a protocol to the Council of Europe's Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, which the council calls the first international agreement banning human cloning.

The measure - called the Protocol on the Prohibition of Cloning Human Beings - was drafted in the 1990s following successful attempts to clone mammals, particularly by embryo splitting and nuclear transfer.

Twenty-four of the 43 Council of Europe states, including Italy, have signed the protocol. It took effect on March 1, after legislatures of five of the member states - Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Greece and Georgia - had ratified it.

Italy has no law of its own which would prevent Dr Severino Antinori, a fertility specialist famous for helping women past menopause conceive, from human cloning.

Antinori is part of a cloning team that includes Panos Zavos, a reproduction researcher who resigned earlier this month from his longtime post at the University of Kentucky.

The Italian medical association has threatened Dr Antinori with disciplinary action if he tries clone a human being.

Last updated: 13:10 Wednesday 14th March 2001




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