Doctor challenges UK cloning ban
LONDON, England -- An Italian fertility expert who wants to clone humans has been told he faces arrest and possible imprisonment if he tries to work in Britain.
The Rome-based gynaecologist Dr Severino Antinori told a Scottish newspaper he wanted to work in Britain because it was the home of many of the world's leading fertility and cloning experts.
But a spokesman for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which regulates fertility treatment in Britain, said Antinori had not applied for a licence.
"He has not applied to us. He'd get short shrift if he did," James Yeandel, a spokesman for the HFEA, told Reuters.
"We clearly stated following our consultation on cloning and following the birth of Dolly the sheep that we wouldn't allow reproductive cloning in the UK," he added.
Practising without a licence could result in a fine or a jail sentence.
Human cloning is illegal in Britain under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990. Many other countries have also banned human reproductive cloning.
Antinori and his collaborator Dr Panos Zavos told Scotland's Sunday Herald newspaper they would ask the HFEA's permission to practise in Britain in order to force it to explain its opposition to human cloning.
If they cannot work in Britain, they said they would perform the procedure elsewhere.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh barred Antinori from participating in a scientific debate on cloning on Monday.
"Since our announcement that we intend to use reproductive cloning as a means to help infertile couples, we have received nothing but opposition from those in the animal cloning field," Antinori and Zavos said in a letter to the Sunday Herald.
The Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, where Dolly the sheep was cloned, has publicly stated its reluctance to give Antinori any credibility.
"He is giving a very valued area of medical science a bad name," the HFEA's Yeandel said.
Antinori made international headlines in 1994 when he helped a woman of 62 have a baby.
He and Zavos announced last month that the first cloned human could be created before the end of the year.
"We are not interested in the replica of dead people. We are interested in assisting a father who does not have the sperm to have a biological child on his own...in assisting couples to reproduce," Zavos told Reuters in an interview in October.
Stem cell, cloning bills dropped
November 2, 2001
International opposition to cloning
August 29, 2001
First human clone bid planned
August 7, 2001
Italy doctor defends human cloning
March 22, 2001
Clone doctor risks ban
March 12, 2001
Cardinal blasts cloning plans
March 10, 2001
Team to attempt human cloning
March 9, 2001
The Royal Society
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority
Italian Medical Association
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