Unesco flays human cloning
Anil K Jopesph (PTI)
From the Hindustani Times
Beijing, September 4
UNESCO DIRECTOR-GENERAL Kochiro Matsuura has decried attempts being made to clone human beings which he said were against 'human dignity.'
"I am disturbed and even disgusted when I read that some people are attempting human cloning. These attempts are against human dignity," he said.
Matsuura, who was here to attend the E-9 ministerial review meeting of the world's nine most populous countries, pointed out that Unesco has been on the forefront of advocating a new code of conduct in bio-ethics.
As early as 1997, Unesco adopted a universal declaration on human genome and human rights which totally banned human cloning. This declaration was also endorsed by the UN General Assembly, he noted.
Cloning is a process that can take any living organism and make a virtually genetically identical duplicate. International debate on human cloning heated up earlier this year after some western researchers said that they planned to produce cloned people. The United States, Russia, Italy, Britain and several other countries have moved to ban human cloning.
Meanwhile, leading US and Chinese scientists involved in the international human genome project (HGP) have described human cloning as a mission both 'wrong' and 'impossible.' The chief co-ordinator of the HGP, Professor Francis Collins said any attempt to redesign and produce human beings through biological methods would be impossible.
Collins said the respect for human freedom and dignity should be the premise for any scientific move, and scientists should firmly oppose the abuse of genes and human cloning.
His view echoed the opinions of many experts who attended the International Human Genome Sequencing Strategy Conference in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang province, Xinhua news agency reported.
Eric Lander, a leading figure at the HGP and a biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the United States, said human cloning is "impossible" and "absolutely wrong." He said scientists cannot produce human beings, nor should they try to change human beings. He added that HGP is designed to understand the human genome, not to change it.
Many scientists warn of horrific consequences if anyone tries to apply the techniques used to create 'Dolly' the sheep for producing cloned people. Cloning involves enormous risks and is inefficient. There are many other natural ways of helping infertile women give birth. Mankind does not need to clone itself, Lander said.
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