Brigitte Boisselier's testimony at the US Congress.
To the Honorable James C. Greenwood, Chairman
Subcommittee on Oversights and Investigations
U.S. House of Representatives
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC, 20515
How could a baby, not even
born yet, have created so much fear around
the world and in this country in the past 4 years?
Since the day the announcement of his potential birth was made, all the
possible unfavorable outcomes have been predicted:
- A shortened lifespan due to shorter telomeres
- A high-risk of birth defect
- A high-probability of not having a soul
- Plagued with insurmountable identity crises
- A difficult relationship with the gene parent
- The possibility of having been desired for reasons other than for him.
How could a baby generate
so much fear, so much disgust, and so much
Why is he announced as a monster, and why are we, scientists at CLONAID,
regarded as monsters?
Why do people only talk about armies of clones, fading copies, and
high-risks of defects when today, there are hundreds of cloned mammals
that are alive and perfectly healthy?
The YUK effect and the Defect Syndrome are terms that are used as a
deterrent and are the result of a collective fear that is constantly fed
by movies, novels, and reports that are hungry for sensationalism. The
fact of the matter is that every time a new theory or a new technique is
introduced to the public it is always scrutinized with the same level of
apprehension, following the so-called precautionary principle. This
was true for other reproductive methods, such as:
- artificial insemination
- in vitro fertilization
- the freezing of human embryos
- surrogate motherhood
All went through this same
condemnation phase and, with time, have
come to be accepted techniques.
So despite the fact that a large number of people curse this new
technology and condemn cloning, using the same arguments that were used
for previous techniques, despite the fact that they claim this time
its different and its gone too far, it is important for society to
realize that it will happen soon regardless. The question is: where.
Furthermore, most researchers agree that it will soon be common practice
and likely to be an option at many fertility clinics.
The purpose of my being
public about our activities at Clonaid is, and
has always been, to prepare our society for this new science, and to
welcome this little baby. It is, and has always been, about educating
people and reminding them that, unlike nuclear weapons, this pro-life
technology does not represent a threat to the survival of the Human race
and that reproductive cloning is not a new drug nor does it involve any
gene modification. This technique just involves the creation of a new
baby, the belated twin of an individual that has given full consent to
I think it is important for people to go past their emotions and examine
the rationale behind such a practice.
In order to do so, let us examine the harms and the benefits of human
cloning in relation to the people cloned, their families and our society.
Benefits related to stem cell research and cloning for organ repair,
organ growth, ageing studies, and cancer studies have been extensively
reported, therefore, I will only concentrate on the benefits of
Who wants a cloned baby?
For the past few years, and particularly the past 6 to 8 months, CLONAID
has received thousands of requests from individuals or couples who are
eagerly waiting for the public announcement of our success. These
individuals are homosexual couples, individuals without a partner, and
mainly infertile couples who have been through all possible fertility
methods and who cannot have a baby with their own genes except through
the cloning method. These requests are not geographically concentrated,
they come from every continent, every culture, and every religion. The
desire to give birth to a child bearing our genes is probably written in
A huge amount of requests have also been expressed by people who have
lost a child or a close relative. Every day, more and more people are
calling and currently, we are working on cells of a baby who died at 10
months of age.
A letter from his father is attached to the present testimony. It calls
to us all and tells us about his motivation, his commitment, and about
mine and the one from scientists at Clonaid. We will do all that is
humanely possible to bring the belated twin of this boy back to life and
healthy. If it becomes impossible to do it in this country, Clonaid will
go elsewhere. And if no country on this planet allows it, we will do it
on a boat in international waters, and we know that the number of people
willing to help us will grow exponentially once they realize that we are
only trying to give birth to a baby.
Having the best of death.
The belated twin of a dead child will not replace the first one, but it
will be one way to have this unique genetic code express itself again, a
first step towards eternal life. Further steps are needed before we
reach that level but this is one of the most probable outcome of this
Low success rates.
The success rate announced for Dolly was very poor: only one viable
offspring for 29 implantations. However, for the past 4 years, success
rates have greatly increased (as could be expected for a new technology)
and the average success reported in the 2000 publications range from 15
to 20% for cattle as an example. This means that 15 to 20 % of the
implanted embryos produced healthy offspring. We should recall that the
best IVF clinics have a success rate of 30 to 40 %. We should also
recall that, 22 years ago, the success rate for IVF techniques when it
first started was less than 1%.
These numbers tell us that, in animal cloning, we have already reached a
level of reproducibility that compares well with human IVF.
The reported defects have been different depending on the species studied.
In regards to mouse problems, we should remember that the ones that
showed defects were inbred which means they don't have any genetic
diversity in their genome... each individual human being, on the other
hand, is outbred and has full genetic diversity which makes us very
resistant to genetic defects and abnormalities..... (inbred means:
brother-sister mating for many generations which makes the two copies of
all their genes the same, therefore no genetic diversity).
Regarding problems of large offspring observed in cattle, we should
recall that the same defects have been observed in calves resulting from
IVF. These defects have never been observed in humans born through IVF.
Those who are familiar with the human Assisted Reproductive Technologies
(ART) and the progress that has been made in growing human embryos in
culture in IVF clinics in the last 15 years, know that our knowledge of
human reproduction is far more advanced than that of other mammals...
Clonaid scientists are well-trained
and have been perfecting the egg
enucleation and heteronuclear transfer which makes us very confident
about the outcome of this endeavor.
Miscarriages and possible
problems for surrogate mothers
Miscarriages are common in pregnancy resulting from IVF but also in
natural reproduction and do not constitute any potential harm to the
Psychological problem for
the cloned individual
- All kinds of problems have been announced for the first test tube
baby, Louisa Brown and she is so normal .
- Identity crises or genetic identity, neither means nor entails
personality identity. The belated twin will have his own identity And
hopefully will be told how precious life is since the alternate choice
for him would be not to exist. What is best for them, to exist or not?
- Too much pressure, too many expectations .Would the belated twin be
expected to behave like his gene donor? Isnt this whats already done
with children today in many families. Arent they expected to perform as
well as dad or even better than dad?
- While we are spending time wondering about this child who is desired
and will be loved and cherished, 13,000 other children are dying every
day from starvation and abuse, sometimes in their own families Which
children should we be more concerned about?
Armies of clones
Armies are not created by individuals but by governments .
Among the thousands of couples or individuals who requested to be
cloned, none ever asked to get more than two clones.
While it is our basic freedom to reproduce our genes as we want, it is
not acceptable to use the genes of someone who is alive and reproduce
them without his consent. This is common sense and should be regulated.
Again, I should emphasize that no one ever came to Clonaid with cells of
famous personalities asking to get a cloned baby with these genes .and
Clonaid does its own sampling to prevent such abuses.
Looking at all these potential
harms, I do not see why we should deny
scientists the right to perform these practices nor why we should deny
these parents from having the baby they have dreamed about for so long.
During the debate that have been conducted the past years, mysterious
objections have been raised and they really need to be addressed.
Playing God, Hubris
Depending on the cultures and religions, different approaches have been
taken. While Christians, in their majority, believe that we shouldnt
head in that direction, Buddhists have expressed no concerns and some
Jewish Rabbis have declared that if God has given us the brain to
imagine it, then this is how its meant to be.
This last attitude is very close to Raelians, who believe that life on
Earth was the result of the creativity of advanced and brilliant
scientists. These creators were mistaken for Gods in ancient times and
today, we ourselves are on the verge of also becoming creators or Gods.
Is this hubris? I believe it is only a natural cycle of creations.
The same emotional objection was given for most new technologies
Cloning is unnatural
It must be painful for identical twins to hear that they are considered
to be unnatural and, therefore, that their existence is morally
undesirable. Centuries ago they were already feared and chased
Both, the World Health Organization and the European Parliament, have
stated that such cloning endeavor would be an offense to human dignity.
The definitions of human dignity offered by major ethics dictionaries
didnt help to explain how cloning would be a violation.
If this means, as I understand it, that we shouldnt treat other people
merely as means to an end but always as ends in themselves, then I
assume it refers to the production of embryos that may or should not be
implanted. This philosophical problem is not unique to human cloning but
is also part of the debate regarding IVF and abortion.
If it refers to the parents choice to have a cloned child, then I want
to testify how conscious these parents-to-be are. In this process, they
conceive their baby with care, patience, determination and the baby will
be one of the most loved child. Can we say the same for all naturally
conceived children today?
I often hear comments such as: These parents are selfish. They want to
have a child with their genes while there are so many children to
adopt, or They want to have the belated twin of a dead son to ease
First of all, we should remember that life is the most wonderful gift.
Now, are we going to have to examine the reasons why parents are having
a child, whatever the reproductive method is used? Do they want it
instinctively or for other reasons such as: they feel like it, they want
a heir, someone to take over their business, someone to help them when
they are old There are all sorts of selfish reasons that can be
involved in the decision to have a child, whatever technique is used.
What world do we want to
live in ??
In his novel A Brave New World, Huxley didnt despise cloning. He
actually described how a state controlled science could produce
controlled individuals who would think the same, act and behave the
same. Thus, it is not cloning that might lead to social harms but rather
social structures that allow any form of reinforced control over
peoples thoughts and behaviors by their rulers. These are the harms I
am concerned about, the ones that I suffered from in France, my country
of origin, when I first declared that cloning was right. As a result of
this declaration, I was denied the right to work and the right to keep
the custody of my younger child .
For all these reasons, and
on behalf of the couples who have hopes, on
behalf of the scientists who are told not to proceed, I am respectfully
asking you to secure two basic freedoms:
The freedom of scientific enquiry
The freedom to make personal reproduction choices.
Brigitte Boisselier, Ph.D.
Director of Clonaid
Clinton, March 25, 2001