Since the announcement, there have been many responses to the claim that Clonaid, an offshoot of the Raelian cult which believes life on earth was started by aliens cloning humans, has achieved the birth of the first human cloned baby.
In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to investigate whether the cloning company has acted illegally by performing any of the alleged cloning procedures on US territory. While the US does not yet have a federal law specifically prohibiting cloning, the FDA says that its guidelines have forbidden reproductive cloning since 1998. An official said 'the implantation of a cloned embryo into a woman is, we think, illegal in the US without FDA approval because of fundamental safety and ethical concerns'.
President Bush announced that he was 'deeply troubled' by the news and again called on the US Congress to ban all forms of cloning. Meanwhile Jacques Chirac, president of France, called for an international ban, saying that cloning is 'contrary to the dignity of man' and calling researchers who attempted it 'depraved'. A spokesman for the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said that it was 'obviously concerned' but would reserve judgement until there was any verification of the claims. The Royal Society, the UK's national academy of science, warned that increasing pressure for a worldwide ban on cloning must not be allowed to hinder vital research into therapeutic cloning.
Although the UK has prohibited cloning for reproductive purposes, Dr Ian Gibson, head of a parliamentary committee on science in the UK, said that there should be a review of the law governing all fertility and cloning technologies. Other scientists remain sceptical of the claim, fuelled by the fact that the independent verification promised by Clonaid has yet to materialise. Following the announcement by Clonaid of a second cloned baby girl, Dr Harry Griffin, head of the Roslin Institute, where Dolly the sheep was cloned, said 'there is no reason to believe this is anything other than a long drawn-out publicity stunt'.