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Scientists defend cloning of sheep


Oppose experiments on humans

February 25, 1997
Web posted at: 5:07 p.m. EST (2207 GMT)

From Correspondent Siobhan Darrow

ROSLIN, Scotland (CNN) -- The scientists who cloned a sheep defended their actions Tuesday, but said they would oppose such experiments on humans.

"These animals are absolutely normal sheep," said Alan Colman of PPL Therapeutics, which sponsored and is patenting the work. "They behave like sheep, look like sheep. They are not genetic mutants."


Dolly, named for U.S. country music star Dolly Parton, bleated and wandered around her pen for the photographers who had come from around the world to see her for themselves. The obviously healthy sheep nuzzled the journalists with her typically sheep-like pink nose.

Human cloning theoretically possible

The Roslin Institute's Dr. Ian Wilmut, who pioneered the technique that cloned Dolly from a single mammary cell from an adult sheep, said that while human cloning is theoretically possible, he saw no reason to do so.

"We would all find it ethically completely unacceptable and would not do it," Wilmut said. icon (153K/7 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

Instead, he said, the focus should be on the potential benefits of the new procedure.

"I would be concerned ... that we don't (throw) away the baby with the bath water and miss these opportunities because we are trying to prohibit things we don't like," he said.


"Nuclear weapons are much more dangerous than this," Wilmut said.

Still, others say the scientists are tampering with the very essence of humanity. Richard Nicholson of the Bulletin of Medical Ethics said the process may well be "sowing the seeds of our destruction." icon (196K/9 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

But the work at Roslin, Colman said, was aimed at producing medicine.

"I think it is undoubtedly true that when dealing with life or death issues, things become more acceptable," he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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