Cloning hearing creates media frenzy

Hourly updates on CNN. A yelling protestor. Television cameras, photographers, and reporters ambushing a researcher exiting a restroom. It wasn’t the typical science meeting last week when a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel convened an information-gathering session in Washington, D.C., on human cloning.

Many of the scientists invited to testify detailed the low success rates they’ve had at cloning animals and described deformities and other physical problems experienced by the few clones that do survive to birth. Nevertheless, two groups reiterated an intent to begin cloning a person as soon as possible, although their secrecy left most details of their plans unclear.

In September, the NAS panel plans to release its recommendations, which could include a moratorium or ban on human cloning. In Congress, the House has already voted to criminalize human cloning and the Senate will take up the issue after it returns from its summer recess. Some scientists have protested the House legislation, since it also outlaws therapeutic cloning, which doesn’t create people but rather generates human cells that could grow into replacement tissues.

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