GENTECH archive 8.96-97


Poll: Americans Oppose Human & Animal Cloning

.c The Associated Press  


LONDON (AP) - The British government is cutting off funding to the research
project that produced the first cloned mammal because it has been a success. 

The decision, announced Saturday by the Ministry of Agriculture, disappointed
Prof. Grahame Bulfield, director of the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh. He
said the ministry had financed the research for eight years and now provided
65 percent of its funding. 

``I will move heaven and earth to keep resources in that cloning program,''
he told The Daily Telegraph. 

The Ministry said the institute's $411,000 grant will be halved in April and
cut entirely by April 1998. 

``We fund hundreds of projects at research institutions and this one has been
a success and the contract is being concluded. We funded it when it was a
theoretical idea and the commitment was never long-term,'' a ministry
spokesman said, speaking on customary anonymity. 

``Perhaps if the project is to progress then it is up to industry to look at
the commercial elements and fund it that way,'' the spokesman added. 

The rest of the institute's financing came from PPL Therapeutics, a Scottish
biotechnology company headquartered outside Edinburgh, whose share prices
have soared since last weekend's announcement that a sheep had been cloned
with tissue from another sheep. 

Roslin scientists have said the cloning was the result of much hit-and-miss
experimentation and needs to be refined through further research. 

The lamb, now seven months old and called Dolly, was cloned from a 6-year-old
ewe, using tissue from the ewe's udder. Previously scientists thought a whole
mammal could not be regenerated from mature body cells that were specialized
for something other than reproduction. 

News of the cloning - and the specter of possible cloning of humans -
generated widespread ethical debate and calls throughout the western world
for greater government control of cloning experiments. 

The day after Dolly's existence was announced, President Clinton asked a
bioethics advisory commission to review the implications for human beings.
The 15-member European Union, which already bans human cloning, asked a
scientific committee to see whether other forms of genetic manipulation
should be regulated. 

A poll released Saturday showed that 93 percent of Americans feel cloning
humans is a bad idea. Sixty-six percent felt it was a bad idea to clone
animals such as sheep and 56 percent said they would not eat meat from cloned

The results came in a TIME/CNN poll of 1,005 adults conducted Feb. 26-27. The
survey had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. 

Bulfield, however, said there had been an ``encouraging'' response from
industry. Cloning could let companies precisely copy animals carrying
proteins valuable in drug-making, or perfectly duplicate cattle that yield
good beef. 

Bulfield said he heard a rumor of government funding cuts in November but
wasn't officially notified until last week. The Ministry of Agriculture
insisted the institute had been notified in November that cuts were imminent.

With less than two months to find $205,000, Bulfield was scrambling. 

``I am very concerned. This is a top priority project at the institute. I do
not know where the money will come from, but I will do everything in my power
to allow it to continue,'' he said. 

Dr. Ian Wilmut, who is leading the project, told Sky TV it was
``disappointing and somewhat ironic'' that news of the cuts started
circulating just ``as we were having some startling success.'' 

AP-NY-03-01-97 2040EST 

Copyright 1997 The Associated Press.  The information  contained in the AP
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distributed without  prior written authority of The Associated Press.