Scientist: Human cloning 'need not happen'
Senate weighs ethical implications
March 12, 1997
Web posted at: 12:29 p.m. EST (1729 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Scottish scientist who cloned an adult
sheep said Wednesday he has found no acceptable application
of cloning technology for humans and that for now he has no
problems with banning such techniques.
"I think now to contemplate using our present technique with
humans would be quite inhuman," said Ian Wilmut of the Roslin
Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland. "It need not happen,
and I hope it will not."
Wilmut made his comments at a morning news conference just
before heading off to a Senate hearing in which scientists
and lawmakers are to discuss the social, legal and ethical
implications of human cloning.
Ian Wilmut on cloning technology
"human cloning need not happen"
(306k/27 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
"there's no practical application" he's comfortable with...
(221K/19 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
"comfortable with" Scotland's legal framework for dealing with cloning
(102K/8 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
Asked if he opposed a ban on human cloning, Wilmut said of
his Scottish homeland: "I am comfortable to live in a country
that already has a legal framework which prohibits this sort
However, Wilmut cautioned lawmakers not to hastily draw up a
bill that could hinder useful aspects of the technology, such
as the production of health care products and the study of
"We are very concerned that in prohibiting any potential
misuse of this technology, society does not lose the
opportunity to develop new treatments," he said.
Wilmut, whose successful cloning of a sheep named Dolly has
spurred world attention to the issue, also emphasized that he
public and media have misunderstood much of how the
technology could be applied.
"These suggested (misunderstandings) actually depend on
bringing a person back. And you can't do that," Wilmut said.
"I am sorry if we added extra distress to those people have
either lost, or are losing, a child."
Human cloning is not necessarily needed because all the work
can be confined to laboratory animals and farm animals, he
said. Asked what he felt was the most misunderstood point of
his studies, Wilmut responded: "Perhaps that one: the idea
that you can bring somebody back."
Senate to investigate
Also at the news conference was Sen. Bill Frist,
R-Tennessee, chairman of the Committee of Public Health and
Safety, which is looking into the ethics of cloning.
Frist said lawmakers, scientists and bio-ethicists would
discuss the various "social, legal, and ethical implications
of the science" at a Wednesday session for about five hours.
He said legislators would work toward a bill that would not
jeopardize research that "has the potential for saving
millions of lives." (272K/25 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
"If we are going to endanger that type of research, then I am
opposed to that legislation," he said.
President Clinton has issued an administrative directive that
no federal money be spent on human embryo research. Also, at
least two bills have been introduced in Congress to ban human
cloning research. Several states also have proposed such
Frist, the only physician in the Senate and who has
performed numerous heart transplants, compared today's debate
to the 1960s, when many believed heart transplants were
unethical. (289K/26 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
"Now is the time for us as a country, as a nation, as a
world, to address these (issues) in a systematic way -- not
too hastily, but in a calm, reasoned, rational, balanced
way," Frist said.
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