The world's largest general scientific organization, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), today expressed great concern about recent reports of the first cloned human baby, urging policymakers and the public to treat such claims skeptically until confirmed scientific evidence is in hand.
"Such unverified claims, based on work in unregulated, clandestine laboratories, are totally inconsistent with the norms of good scientific practice. They are a disservice to society and can foster confusion over the difference between research using cloning methods, which may lead to important new medical treatments, and attempts at reproductive cloning, which may pose substantial risk to the mother and baby involved," said Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of its journal, Science.
Peter H. Raven, chairman of the AAAS Board of Directors and director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, cautioned against overreaction to recent reports: "Human cloning claims made last week by the Clonaid company are unverified, and the practice of publishing by press conference is contrary to accepted standards of scientific behavior," said Raven, speaking on behalf of the AAAS Board. "Whether these claims ultimately prove true or false, based on published scientific evidence, we believe human reproductive cloning is premature and potentially dangerous to the offspring created. Human reproductive cloning also should not be confused with methods for developing cells to treat debilitating diseases and injuries."
The AAAS Board of Directors on Feb. 14, 2002 endorsed a legally enforceable ban on reproductive clonin