Skip to main content /transcript




Scientists Announce Project to Clone Humans

Aired August 7, 2001 - 13:41   ET


DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Elizabeth Cohen has been monitoring the hearing while we've been catching up to date.

What's going on right now, Elizabeth?

Well, I have to tell you, this hearing I have never seen anything quite so volatile in all of the different scientific meetings that I've been at. Basically, Panos Zavos -- who's we're seeing now in the big box over there -- is talking about why we should clone. He considers it a humanitarian effort. He says he is going to help infertile couples to conceive, and he thinks that the risks are minimal. He told us before the break. He said in meeting here, that the risks are minimal, and that animal studies that show that there are risks are actually poorly done.

Let's listen in to what he has to say.

PANOS ZAVOS, ANDROLOGY INSTITUTE: Believe it or not, that day that this paper was published -- and it showed up in the press, I was confronted with maybe fifty or sixty of you folks calling my offices and say, what do you think about this? And of course, there are probably of thousands of you that reported the papers as being hot of the press, and that we ought not to be doing human reproductive cloning, because it simply is not safe. But what do the papers say? Very confusing results.

Next slide please.

Very -- next slide please.

Let's go to the next one.

Let's go to the next one.

OK, I want to point, one item out. I had my embryology group go in and do some due-diligence research, and we found out that -- obviously, the paper, when I said this morning, it was published, about 91 days after it was submitted in "Science," normally, a peer- review publication...


ZAVOS: I will finish in a second.


ZAVOS: We reviewed about 30 publications in the latest issue in "Fertility and Sterility" that show that it took 10 to 12 months for a peer review paper to show up in fertility and stability, and there it is, an issue that appeared in 91 days in the press, two weeks before the Congress deliberates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:: Thank you for your contribution, Dr. Zavos, Dr. Boisselier.

KELLEY: Three of the members on this panel who have time allotted. The time was from 1:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Eastern Time, and so they may be wrapping up their comments here pretty quickly.

Let's bring back in Elizabeth Cohen, our correspondent who's in Washington.

Elizabeth, as you look at this, they're still trying to make the case, and the interesting thing, before we went to the last break, talking about the success rate in in vitro being at 30 percent, and then he had a couple of examples on animals: goats, 32 percent success, and then calves in Japan, one experiment, 80 percent, he said. And he said the animal cloning efficiency is low, but that there were reasons for that.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, exactly. He basically said two things. He said, wow, look at these studies that show relatively high success rates in goats or in other animals, just like in vitro fertilization, relatively high success rates. Well, what he didn't say is the ones that weren't successful were those babies born deformed, or were they just never born?

In other words, in in vitro fertilization, you only have a 30 percent success rate, but the other 70 percent aren't born deformed. They're just not born at all. And so with these animal studies, when you hear a 30 percent success rate, you have to ask, well, what happened to the other 70 percent? Were they just miscarriages or just pregnancies that kind of disappeared, or were they deformed babies?

And now Ian Wilmut, who is the researcher who made will Dolly the clone, would say that they are actually often born deformed. We're now going to hear from Brigitte Boisselier. She works for the group called Clonaid, and they are also trying to clone human beings.


BRIGITTE BOISSELIER, CLONAID: So we should not forget in our debates that there is that huge demand. Further down the road, I believe that our society's changing a lot, and science is behind these changes in our society. I think one day we'll be able to use our genes the way that we want, and I think it's in our own choice to use the genes the way we want.

If you want to have a baby, mixing your gene with someone of your choice, it must be your right. But it's also your right, if you want to reproduce your cells using your genes alone. And I think this will be debate in our society, but science's behind that.

Now, what scientific data that I have been provided to ask today, and in the past publication, that support the banning of human cloning. What do we have today that we should consider? Because I consider myself, as a responsible person, and I will not clone a human being, expecting some kind of defects. So I had to review all of these information and make my own decisions on how I should proceed as a scientists.

Well, we heard a lot about the defects. The first one that was the most public was the other way of Dolly. And I was glad to hear that it was a media effect actually this morning. But I was treated as a media hog in the public presently. So I should take care of my weight maybe.


Now regarding the rate of success, because people have been saying this is terrible to produce or to think of producing a human baby with such a low success rate. Let's talk about success rate in human reproduction. Today, if there is a couple, a new couple would like to have a baby, decide to have a baby, sometimes they can wait very, very long, and my colleagues here will tell you that some people try for years without having that. They have severe infertility problem. And if we only consider individuals or couples who do not have infertility problem, they are trying to have a baby, they can wait sometime a year, sometimes two years to get a baby. What does that mean? Does that mean that they only have one embryo produce? And only leading to one pregnancy? Not at all. We know that they are producing embryos every month, or every cycle, and they have early miscarriages. What does that mean? Those embryos were not viable.

So in sexual, normal, so-called normal reproduction, there is a success rate of about 10, 12. It's not documented, but it's easy for us to visualize that there is a low sexual reproduction success rate.

Now, if you look at in vitro fertilization then you raise that success rate up to, for most of the cloning, between 30-40 percent success rate, and even I think that there are some clinics going up to 50 percent success rate.

So by science, we control -- in human reproduction, we control a lot, those defects, those possible damage, because they are means to check those embryos, and this have been developed for the last 22 or 23 years, thanks to in vitro fertilization. Now, so this is for human reproduction.

Now if we go to animal calling and the success rate that we heard about. So it's true that there was one publication at 80 percent. But most of the success rate was summarized actually by Dr. Coleman, are between 0.5 percent and 19 percent, which is very close actually to the actual normal sexual reproduction. If we only use numbers -- remember those numbers, so today we have those. This is for the rate of success. How to compare animals and humans. Can we use the results of scientific -- the scientific results in cloning of human, and apply those to humans? Because that's what he's done most of the time, and that's probably also the purpose of this meeting.

KELLEY: Brigitte Boisselier, she is with Clonaid. She's talking about where she thought she should proceed looking at the science and proceeding as a scientists, and the success rates that they have.

Elizabeth Cohen, you are monitoring this. Can you tell us a little bit more about the group that she is with?

COHEN: She's with a group called CLONAID, which is with a group called the Raelians. The Raelians call themselves a religion; other people call them a cult. They believe that aliens came down from outer space and created all of us human beings down here on Earth. Pavos Zavos, on the one hand, is an academic who previously was at a university. This group, however, is looked at a little bit differently; many people look at them as more of a cult.

However, they claim that they have the technology that is needed to clone a human being.

What we are seeing now here is, just two weeks ago, my producer went to their annual convention. It's called their white ball; they're all wearing white. This is the in Canada. That's their symbol there; it's taken off a variation of the Star of David, because they believe that they are a religion. Rael is the gentleman with the pony tail on the top of his head. He is the head of this religion -- again, called the Raelians.

They also have, near where they were having dinner, they have their UFOland Museum. This is a museum of UFOs. They believe in UFOs. They believe that's how the aliens got down here, on Earth, to create all of us.

What we heard Brigitte Boisselier talk is success rates. What she said is when a couple wants to have a baby, they are taking lots of risks. They may never conceive. They may conceive, but there may be a miscarriage. They may go to full-term, but the baby could be born with some horrible disease, like Down syndrome. What she was basically trying to say is with cloning, there are those risk, but you are taking those risks anyhow.

Animal researchers would say that's baloney, that the risks of having a deformed baby with cloning are much higher. Ian Wilmut, the scientist who cloned Dolly, said they might get a healthy human baby out of a cloning experiment, but they would have tens of thousands -- as he put it -- of deformed babies and the carnage along the way -- Donna.

KELLEY: Andrew Goldstein is still with us. He was one of the reporters for a "TIME" magazine article on this.

Andrew, the question that your report started with: cloning -- where do you draw the line? Where did most people want to draw the line?

ANDREW GOLDSTEIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: What is interesting are the poll numbers that you showed before, with 90 percent of Americans saying that they don't want cloning. But the same polls when we ask about stem cell research say that 60 percent to 70 percent of Americans are in favor of stem cell research. I think as people begin to understand the science, they are going to realize that cloning does not mean making an exact copy of you. It means taking DNA and starting a new embryo with the same DNA makeup.

Therapeutic cloning, which is not to create a human, but to move to stem cell research, may be the most effective way of curing the diseases that everybody wants to cure through stem cell research. So those poll numbers may change as people begin to understand the science.

KELLEY: Andrew, thanks very much. Andrew Goldstein, one of the reporters from "TIME" magazine, working on the article.



Back to the top