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REPRODUCTIVE CLONING:

Developments - 1997 to 2000 incl.

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Sponsored link.


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Note:

The following news items relate to reproductive cloning: the creation of a newborn human or other animal who is an exact duplication of an existing person. They do not describe therapeutic cloning: the creation of pre-embryos in order to extract their stem cells and create a human organ.

See another essay for information on U.S. legislation at the Federal and State levels which have attempted to regulate human therapeutic and reproductive cloning.

News items on therapeutic (a.k.a. research) cloning is described elsewhere.

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News items on reproductive cloning:

bullet1997-FEB-11: USA: Federal legislation: A bill was brought before the US Senate which would criminalize human cloning. Scripps Howard news service reported that "widespread protests from the scientific community coupled with concern about the Republican leadership's haste in bringing the bill forward" killed the bill.
bullet1997-JUN: USA: Southern Baptists Resolution:  Messengers (delegates) to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution supporting a U.S. government ban on funding human embryo research. They also asked that human cloning be prohibited.
bullet1998-NOV: USA: Advisory Committee: Harold Shapiro, chairman of the National Bioethics Advisory Committee, said that human cloning may be "impossible to stop." Research is being done with "stunning speed."
bullet1998-FEB-20: Korea: Calf clone: The Korean Times  reported that researchers at the Seoul National University had successfully cloned a calf using methods identical to those which produced "Dolly". "Researchers said [that] Korea became the fifth country in the world to clone an adult animal after the United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand and the United States."
bullet1999-APR-20: Japan: Calf clones: Approx. date: Japanese researchers at the Snow Band dairy in Hokkaido produced twin calves. They used a mammary cell extracted from colustrum: the milk produced by a cow shortly after having given birth.
bullet1999-APR-27: Canada: Goats: Nexia Biotechnologies Inc. of Montreal, Quebec have produced the world's first cloned goats. The triplets are named Arnold, Danny and Clint. The company's eventual goal is to produce transgenic animals - goats with a human gene - which will produce milk containing spider-silk proteins. The proteins would be extracted and "used for artificial tendons or ligaments, tissue repair, wound healing and sutures."
bullet1999-MAY: Scotland: Ageing problem: The Scottish researchers who cloned Dolly, the first cloned mammal, have discovered that her cells are six years older than her chronological age. The cell that was used to fertilize the sheep ovum that became Dolly came from an adult female sheep, aged 6 years. Apparently, cells have an internal mechanism which keeps track of its age. This mechanism was not reset to 0 when Dolly was conceived. She was, in essence, over 6 years old when she is born. Dolly will probably have a lower life expectancy as a result.
bullet1999-JUN-16: USA Southern Baptist resolution: The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution which calls once more for the U.S. government to continue its ban on federal funding for human embryo research. They also asked that privately-funded researchers voluntarily stop this research as well.
bullet1999-OCT-17: Russia: Woolly Mammoth: A team of French, American, Dutch and Russian paleontologists successfully airlifted a male, 23 tonne (25 ton) woolly mammoth from its grave in Siberia where it had been frozen for 20,000 years. It was almost complete except for its head which had been exposed to air in the past. Since the species has been extinct for over 10,000 years, some scientists have proposed that attempts be made to breed a living mammoth from DNA, sperm or cell nucleus retrieved from the carcass. An modern elephant ovum would be used, because it is the closest living relative to the mammoth. Some suggestions are:
bulletRetrieve some mammoth DNA from its bones or tissue and insert it into a living elephant cell. If successful, this would produce an elephant-mammoth hybrid with mammoth DNA pieces in some of the elephant chromosomes. If successful, the result would be an elephant with some mammoth features.
bulletPerform artificial insemination between a mammoth sperm and unfertilized ovum of a living elephant. If successful, this would produce an animal with mixed mammoth-elephant chromosomes.
bulletClone the mammoth by inserting the nucleus from one of its cells into an empty ovum of an elephant. This would produce a full clone of the mammoth. Unfortunately, thawing out the animal tends to destroy cell nuclei. Thus, cloning may not be possible. 
bullet2000-JAN-13: USA: Monkey clone: According to DayWatch: "Scientists announced on Thursday that they had cloned a monkey. The researchers at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center said the rhesus monkey named "Tetra" was cloned by splitting a very early embryo into four parts. The cloning process is different from the one that created Dolly the Sheep. Researchers hope the experiment will result in the production of identical lab animals for testing." This procedure is actually "embryo cloning." 
bullet2000-APR-27: USA: Ageing problem of clones solved? Scientists at Advanced Cell Technology, Inc of Worcester, MA successfully cloned six cows. They grew cells from a 45 day fetus "until they neared the end of their life span, then put those cells back into eggs, which they allowed to develop into calves." They then measured the telomeres of sample cells from the animals. These are structures at the ends of the cells' chromosomes. The telomeres shorten as cells divide and age. Once they are frayed beyond repair, the cell dies. The researchers found that the "telomeres in the cloned cows were much longer than those in normal cows of the same age, and in many cases they were longer than telomeres in newborn calves." The cow's cells appeared younger than the cow's chronological age! Dr. Michael West, president and CEO of Advanced Cell Technology said: "What we showed in this paper is this clock gets reset. It gets wound back up. It remains to be determined whether this would extend the life of the animal." Scientists speculate that these animals may age more slowly and be able to repair damage due to disease and aging. West said that perhaps someday, doctors might be able to "take one young cell from a patient and make hundreds or thousands of young cells and put them back in the patient and give them back a young immune system or give them back young cartilage in their knees." 1
bullet2000-AUG-17: Britain: Human cloning may proceed: An advisory group in Britain has recommended that the ban be lifted on human "therapeutic cloning." See details .The goal is to create organ transplants which bear the DNA of the recipient patient. "At present embryo research is allowed only for treating infertility and preventing disability in children. Government ministers have already indicated that they support Professor Donaldson’s proposals. Members of Parliament will vote on the issue later this year. At the same time, the law will be strengthened to prevent cloning with the aim of producing a baby." 2
bullet2000-SEP-25: Scotland: Gay conception may be possible: Catholic World News reported the comments of Dr. Calum MacKellar, a lecturer in bioethics and biochemistry at the University of Edinburgh. He speculated that future developments in cloning research might make it possible to obtain a human ovum from a woman, remove its DNA, and replace it with the DNA from a male. Theoretically, the ovum could then be fertilized with the sperm from a second male -- perhaps a spouse of the first male. The fertilized "male egg" could then be implanted in the womb of a surrogate mother. This could produce a child whose DNA was derived from both of the newborn's fathers, with no female DNA involved. He recommends that the new cloning bill to be introduced into the British Parliament later in 2000 include a section which would deal with the creation of a male egg. Dr. MacKellar said: "The ethical, philosophical and theological issues surrounding the creation of children with two genetic fathers and a surrogate mother are extensive, and they need to be thoroughly thought through before any legislation is considered in parliament...If the Government does not take careful notice of the issues surrounding the male egg, another report will need to be written by another Chief Medical Officer just because no-one believed this could happen."
bullet2000-OCT-9: USA: Endangered species cloning: Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology reported that scientists have impregnated a cow with a cell cloned from a Asian gaur - a large, rare wild ox. They removed the DNA from a cow's ovum, fused it with DNA taken from a skin cell of a gaur, and produced a gaur embryo that is accepted by the cow's immune system. The embryo was implanted in the cow's uterus. They hope that "Bessie" will deliver a gaur calf in November. If the technique works, then a new method will have been found to save endangered or recently extinct animals. Many species are becoming extinct in the wild; in some cases, the species do not readily mate in zoos. Cloning may be their only hope of survival. 3
bullet2000-OCT-11: Bahamas: Religious group will try to clone human: An unnamed American couple has paid £300,000 to a religious group, the Raelians, to clone their dead daughter. She had died at the age of 10 months as a result of a medical accident. Her parents had some cells from her body saved in the hope of producing an identical twin of her in the future. 4 At a September press conference in Canada, Dr Brigitte Boisselier, scientific director of the Raelians, said: "We've got the funding. We anticipate being able to start in October." She announced that up to 50 women had volunteered to act as surrogate mothers. The lab will be set up in a third-world country which has no laws against cloning. Reaction was varied:
bulletProfessor Ian Wilmut, the scientist who created Dolly the Sheep, said: "It sounds to me like a very misguided exercise. Clearly everybody feels very sorry for any couple who loses a child but you cannot get that child back. People should realize that as a biological truth. Quite apart from that, it is absolutely criminal to try this in a human."
bulletMichael West, chief executive of Advanced Cell Technology, in Massachusetts, said: "People with experience in vitro fertilization would probably be able to do it. The directions are all in the scientific literature. They're not top secret.
bulletDr Vivienne Nathanson, head of ethics at the British Medical Association speculated: "They may succeed and if they do it will be very interesting...But rather than winning a Nobel Prize these people may have to face almost universal condemnation. There's a fairly broad consensus worldwide that this is undesirable. It's too risky and underpinning the scientific risk there are tremendous moral and ethical problems. I'm not convinced that people understand how unsafe the science is."
bulletProfessor Robert Winston, the test tube baby pioneer, was more pessimistic: "As they are so extremely unlikely to succeed I hardly feel the need to raise my voice to condemn them."

There is a near consensus among observers that this item was a publicity stunt by the Raelians.

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References:

  1. "Scientists rewind aging clock in cells of cloned cows, study says," CNN.com, 2000-ARR-27, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  2. "British experts back cloning," 2000-AUG-16, at: http://www.7am.com/
  3. "Scientists impregnate cow with cloned cells of rare ox," 2000-OCT-8, Associated Press.
  4. Toby Moore & Michael Hanlon, "Cult in first bid to clone human," Daily Express, London, UK. 2000-OCT-11

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Copyright ©1997 to 2004 incl. by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 1997-AUG-5
Last updated 2004-FEB-13

Author: Bruce A Robinson

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