Bush Backs Human Cloning Ban

President supports continuing Clinton's 1997 ban on funding human cloning research; Congress hears of ethical risks.

BY: Laura Meckler

WASHINGTON, March 28 (AP) - Scientists warned that human cloning is an ethically risky proposition likely to produce deformed babies, even as researchers who plan to move forward defended their plans before a congressional panel. The White House said President George W. Bush would sign a federal law outlawing this research.

Members of Congress appeared eager to send him this legislation, saying that even if the scientific and safety issues could be overcome, ethical issues remain.

``Cloning may literally threaten the character of our human nature,'' said Rep. Billy Tauzin, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Rep. Clifford Stearns went further: ``It interferes with the natural order of things,'' he said. ``People have a right to their own genetic makeup, which should not be replicated.''

Clones are created when the genetic material from a single adult cell is injected into an egg cell that has had its genes removed.

While mainstream scientists are unanimously opposed to human cloning, at least for now, two groups of scientists have promised to move ahead within the next year or two.

They defended their plans before the Commerce oversight subcommittee, likening their work to early efforts at invitro fertilization. Cloning, they said, can help infertile couples who want a biologically related child.

``Those that say ban it, those would not be the Neil Armstrongs that would fly us to the moon,'' said Panos Zavos, a reproduction researcher who resigned this month from the University of Kentucky to help lead the human cloning effort.

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