On 23 November 2003, Sir David Frost interviewed Dr Brigitte Boisselier & Nigel Cameron
Reprinted from “BBC Breakfast with Frost” with permission. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/breakfast_with_frost/3231072.stm
DAVID FROST: Is it possible to clone human beings, and if so is it ethical? Well a major conference on cloning takes place in London tomorrow, where one scientist
Dr Brigitte Boisellier will claim not only that it is ethical to clone humans but that her organisation, Clonaid, has already done it as many as five times.
Dr Boisselier joins me now along with Professor Nigel Cameron, chairman of the Centre for Bioethics and Public Policy, who says cloning is fraught with scientific and ethical problems.
Let’s just turn to you first of all, it is true to say, or the things I’ve read everywhere, that you, you say you’ve been successful five times in cloning.
DR BRIGITTE BOISSELIER: Five times and there are some more coming. Yes.
DAVID FROST: How old is the eldest?
DR BRIGITTE BOISSELIER: Almost a year now. She was born in December 26 last year.
DAVID FROST: And do you worry about the things that I’ve been reading in everywhere about the fact that she may suffer great damage or deformities later.
DR BRIGITTE BOISSELIER: Absolutely not. She, she is so healthy. You cannot distinguish between her and any other baby. And, you know, when I, when I hear about the effects on babies, they, they are – just in America – there are 400 babies born with defects every day, naturally – okay?
In the five babies we have had there has been absolutely no defect. We know how to do those embryo, it’s easy to clone human beings. Easier to clone human beings than it is to clone any other mammals. And we have cloning already of over 25 years of experience in preparing … thanks to in-vitro fertilisation so it’s possible, not only possible … human clones.
DAVID FROST: Nigel, you’ve heard very strongly there saying it’s easy to clone human beings, what do you say?
NIGEL CAMERON: Well I say, you know, I’ve read science fiction before. Last year Brigitte got the media focused on her for a few days with this claim that they had cloned the first babies and she would prove it and she never did.
And I think all the people in the trade reckon this will be a very, very difficult thing to do – and they have been trying hard all over the world with vast amounts of money. So I think there’s no reason why we should believe what she is saying but she’s raising some very important questions, which is why I’m glad we’re having this meeting today.
DAVID FROST: So when everybody says when will you let someone independent gather the evidence, and so on, meet the babies or whatever, when are you going to give somebody a chance to see if what you say is true or not?
DR BRIGITTE BOISSELIER: Okay. For me it’s not a problem, it’s for the parents. You know, they have their baby, they want to lead a happy life and they want to protect the child, the children. So for me, I respect that even if it was hard. Can you imagine like last year when I had to say well it’s impossible to give the proof because of them saying no. But in the second, I think the second generation might be easier, … the second … babies …
DAVID FROST: Because, as Nigel reflects, until you do make some evidence available, the evidence is about people, but then the scientific community are not going to believe you. But, one other point I wanted to put to you too is that you are also at the moment looking at eternity –
DR BRIGITTE BOISSELIER: Yes.
DAVID FROST: – for those of us here on earth, which we are all interested in, though that may come a bit late for me, but anyway but –
DR BRIGITTE BOISSELIER: I don’t think so.
DAVID FROST: No? This is even better news. But I mean how does that come about, how can you do that? How can you perpetuate someone’s life beyond the normal 80 years?
DR BRIGITTE BOISSELIER: There are many, many ways to do that. You have heard about results using stem cells to treat heart problems, heart disease, the stem cells that we can produce, thanks to our technology, won’t have your own DNA. If I can take some of you cells, I could prepare some stem cells with your own DNA that will not be rejected.
So I could somehow repair many part of yourself, your body, the whole body, right, and we can extend your life that way until we reach the point where, thanks to cloning, we can transfer your personality and then we have eternity.
DAVID FROST: Right. You could be – you and I could be mended. Do you think people can be mended in this way, that can live to be 160?
NIGEL CAMERON: I think that we may well get to live a little longer as we fight diseases in more traditional methods. I think the notion of creating a clone, creating a cloned you, creating a twin to you, to use the sort of clone to destroy it to make you live longer is a pretty immoral idea.
And most of the nations around the world, in fact interestingly the UK is one f five or six nations which actually agreed on this point that you should be able to research on little cloned embryos with the radiums and Brigitte, almost every nation has said we don’t want to do this, there are other ways in which we can extend people’s lives. And certainly it will be a wonderful thing if we can live a few years longer.
DAVID FROST: But do you think these hopes that are raised are dangerous? Or do you think the actual, these two medical functions, are actually dangerous? That in fact they are more difficult than Brigitte says and that there are more dangers and negative threats?
NIGEL CAMERON: I think virtually every scientist in the world would say that it is impossible at the moment to clone live-born human beings. That’s one clear fact. There’s a lot of research into aging processes but this stem cell stuff is so hard to control at the moment I think it will be a long way away.
And at the same time, if the cost of these things is to dehumanise human beings, and ultimately to manufacture human beings, which is what cloning is, it’s turning your baby into your project, into a project with features, then I think this is not the way to go. The great struggle here is biotechnology, is it for human dignity or will it undermine it.
Watch Online: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsa/n5ctrl/progs/frost/latest.ram
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