NEWS

Cloned child in 2002?

Dr Panayiotis Zavos, a Cypriot fertility expert working in the United States, is one of two doctors who dropped a bombshell in January 2001 when they said they were prepared to launch a serious effort to clone a human being. Now, in an interview with Kathimerini yesterday, Zavos proclaimed, «2002 will be the year of the clone.» This was the latest news in the controversial effort by Zavos and his Italian colleague, Dr Severino Antinori, to clone a human being. In October, the two said that the following month would see them begin impregnating up to 200 women with cloned human embryos. Earlier this year, Antinori said that three women were already pregnant with clones but has not said where these women are. Zavos was disparaging in his appraisal, saying «I believe that Antinori has nothing tangible.»  He said that the two doctors had split, «Because Antinori wanted to tell stories. I wanted to work.» Zavos, whose efforts prompted his native Cyprus to ban efforts to clone a human being, was cagey about whether he was already monitoring pregnancies involving clones. «From the point of view of scientific potential, we are already capable of cloning humans. My team is already making progress,»  Zavos said. «Of course, there are difficulties, but specialized people, scientists who know what they are doing, can overcome them,» he said. Dr Spyros Simitis, however, president of Germany’s Bioethics Committee, which has helped determine Germany’s stance against cloning, pointed out both the scientific, ethical and legal difficulties of human cloning. «Unfortunately, it is likely in the near future, but it is scientifically unacceptable. It would be a scientific barbarity,» he told Kathimerini. He pointed to the evidence that showed «that we are still far from cloning a human being without catastrophic results.» Simitis, who is brother to the Greek prime minister, warned that cloning is a technique that «more than any other can interfere with human lives.»  Furthermore, «When a state, a government or a society sets out to create human molds on the basis of certain criteria, to create future human beings, that will be the end of freedom.» Nevertheless, as Zavos commented in a hearing before the US Congress in March 2001, «The genie is out of the bottle.»