Prof. Tells Pols of Secret Island for Human Cloning
WASHINGTON – Horrified lawmakers yesterday heard from a Kentucky fertility expert who declared "the genie's out of the bottle" and claimed he has 700 people eager to participate in human cloning.
Panos Zavos told a House panel he represents an international consortium whose lab – at a secret island location in the Mediterranean – likely will clone a human within two years.
"The genie's out of the bottle ... and the world needs to address this issue," said Zavos, a former University of Kentucky physiology professor.
"This consortium will not step on dead bodies and deformed babies to get this accomplished," he said. "Producing developmentally abnormal human children is clearly not ethically acceptable."
Zavos said the consortium's goal is to develop "a technology that can give an infertile and childless couple the right to ... have a child and complete its life cycle."
Zavos, a Greek Cypriot by birth and now a U.S. citizen, is not a medical doctor and critics charge he has never published any research.
Zavos, who's married to an obstetrician-gynecologist, retired from the University of Kentucky after more than two decades shortly after he went public with his cloning work.
He and his wife own a company that sells fertility products and run a fertility clinic in Lexington, which boasts a success rate that is much better than average.
Outside the hearing, Zavos said the consortium – headed by Italian fertility doctor Severino Antinori, who specializes in helping post-menopausal women, including a woman in her 60s who gave birth – will narrow down the applicants to about 10 donors.
He said the first few successful clonings would be performed free and predicted the procedure eventually would cost roughly the same as in vitro fertilization.
But one of the scientists who created the first cloned animal, Dolly the sheep, said Zavos' testimony was "misleading" and warned that cloning humans at this stage was "totally irresponsible" and fraught with risk of serious birth defects.
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