Scientists including Dr Anne McLaren of the Wellcome/CRC Institute at Cambridge University and Member of the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority), and Professor Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, will be boycotting the First International Symposium on Cloning, due to be held in Monte Carlo next month. The symposium was to be presided over by Dr Severino Antinori, the Italian doctor who has vowed to embark upon reproductive cloning. Both of the scientists were due to speak at the conference.
The symposium was to be the Third World Congress of the Association of Private Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinics and Laboratories (A PART). On Tuesday last week, the managing board of , which includes Dr Antinori, announced after a vote that it was to cut all ties with the Monte Carlo conference and would hold it's own meeting later in the year. It was following this announcement that the scientists pulled out.
Dr Antinori said that the meeting would still go ahead, adding 'the votes must be considered not effective since some of the 12 members have... resigned'. The President of A PART, Dr Wilfried Feichtinger, issued a statement by email and on the organisation's website saying that concern about Antinori had been growing over past months, both about his representation in the media and the way he was managing the symposium. In addition, the managing board of A PART was concerned by other problems, including low sign up and registration numbers, a number of withdrawals and a lack of abstracts submitted to the journal that was to accompany the meeting.
Later in the week it was reported that Dr Antinori had been expelled from A PART, allegedly for 'disreputable conduct'. The managing board was asked to vote on Thursday whether he should be expelled over his management of the symposium and for his recent conduct about human reproductive cloning. The vote must be reconfirmed by the members' general assembly. Until then, his membership rights will be suspended. Dr Antinori claims that the meeting will continue with the 'true A PART', and that they have voted to expel Professor Feichtinger.
Sources and References
Fertility experts expel human clone doctor
Scientists boycott 'human clone' conference