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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Researchers Welcome Cloning Ethics Debate

EDINBURGH, Scotland -- Scientists who produced the first clone of an adult mammal said Tuesday that they welcomed U.S. President Bill Clinton's call for study of the implications of their discovery for humans.

Dr. Ian Wilmut, head of the research team from Edinburgh's Roslin Institute that produced a lamb from a single mammary cell, said the technique probably could be used to clone humans, but saw no reason to do so.

"We can't see a clinical reason why you would do this. We would all find it ethically completely unacceptable and would not do it and in fact it is illegal in the United Kingdom already,'' Wilmut told a news conference. "We are delighted to see that President Clinton is getting people to think about it.''

Dr. Ron James, managing director of the pharmaceutical company PPL Therapeutics, which was a partner in the project, told the news conference that "a huge amount of experimental work would have to go ahead'' before humans could be cloned.

Asked to say how long it could take, he said, "Hopefully eternity, i.e. never.''

Clinton said Monday that the lamb "represents a remarkable scientific discovery,'' but raises serious ethical questions, "particularly with respect to the possible use of this technology to clone human embryos.'' He asked a bioethics advisory commission to report within 90 days with recommendations on "possible federal actions to prevent its abuse.''

Professor Joseph Rotblat, an atomic scientist who won the Nobel Peace prize in 1995, called Monday for an international ethical body to vet controversial science.

Wilmut revealed Monday that the cloned animal was named after country singer Dolly Parton. "She was derived as you know from mammary cells and the people who were looking after her could not think of a more impressive set of mammary cells than those that belong to Dolly Parton,'' Wilmut said.