Religious leaders denounce cloning claims

 Reports that a cloning company has succeeded in creating a baby girl, have been denounced by religious leaders from all faiths as well as many scientists and politicians from around the world. On 27 December, Clonaid, a company connected to the Raelian sect, whose leader believes space aliens created life on Earth, announced that a baby girl, named Eve by doctors, had been born and was a clone of her mother. He promised to produce scientific evidence proving his claim, within the next two weeks. In a statement, papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls noted that the announcement came with no scientific proof, and that it "has already given rise to the scepticism and moral condemnation of a great part of the international scientific community." He added: "but the announcement in itself is an expression of a brutal mentality, devoid of any ethical and human consideration." These sentiments have been echoed by Muslim and Jewish religious leaders. Dr Majid Katme. spokesman for the Islamic Medical Association said human cloning was "unethical" "immoral" and anti-God". Dr Donald Bruce, from the Church of Scotland, said there could be serious physical and psychological risks in cloning. President Jacques Chirac of France described cloning as "contrary to the dignity of man", while US President George Bush said that the news was "deeply troubling". The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched an investigation into allegations that the cloning procedure was carried out within the US. The Canadian federal health minister reaffirmed her government's commitment to ban human cloning for both reproductive and experimental purposes, and appeals for similar legislation were made by politicians in Ireland. However, a senior ethical adviser to the British government said that cloning could be morally justified and called for a worldwide debate on the issue. Professor Sheila McLean of Glasgow University said that reaction to Clonaid's announcement had been dominated by "knee-jerk opposition on religious grounds" and that there had been no "convincing argument against reproductive cloning". The British government supports the creation of cloned human embryos for research purposes. The UK parliament is the only national legislature in the western world to have voted in favour of the practice.

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