GENEWATCH
 
THE REAL-LIFE CHARACTERS OF CLONING
By CRG Staff
 

As these cloners (and would-be cloners) demonstrate, sometimes truth is even stranger than science fiction.


RaeliansThe Raelians

This religious cult, founded by 'Rael' (previously a race car driver, journalist, and singer/songwriter), has a creation myth of their own: that humans were created from clones by aliens. The cult entered the spotlight in 2002, when Clonaid, the Raelians' own 'cloning' company, announced the first successful human clone. The baby, who they called 'Eve,' had apparently been cloned from the tissue of two grieving donors' deceased daughter. However, the Raelians declared Eve herself was not ready to be revealed to the public; eventually, they announced that her identity would forever remain a secret. Although most never took the Raelians' claims seriously, the press attention sparked debates around the world on the ethics of human cloning, and Rael himself appeared at a Congressional hearing.


Hwang Woo-suk

Hailed around the world for being the first to use somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) to clone stem cell lines, the South Korean scientist's research was found to be fraudulent. This came after his findings had been published in Science - using images drawn from fertilized embryos manipulated to look like patients' stem cells. It didn't stop there: Hwang was also convicted of embezzling $3 million of his research funding for personal use, illegally buying ova over the internet for his research, and overseeing botched egg retrievals that sent a number of women to the hospital. Then he went to work for a pet cloning company.


Missy the Dog

After hearing about the cloning of Dolly the sheep, multi-billionaire John Sperling decided to look into the possibility of cloning Missy, his girlfriend's dog. Sperling assigned the task to his girlfriend's son, Lou Hawthorne, who founded Genetic Savings and Clone. After that venture folded, Hawthorne carried on, founding BioArts and Encore Pet Services - and hired Hwang Woo-suk.

If you visit the BioArts website today, you will find a September 2009 note from Hawthorne announcing - "with frustration and disappointment" - the "Six Reasons We're No Longer Cloning Dogs." Reason number two: "Unethical, Black Market Competition."

Compiled with help from the Center for Genetics and Society

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