The Cloning Question

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto", February 13, 2004, that was edited for clarity.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: A team of South Korean researchers has announced its successful harvesting of stem cells from a cloned human embryo. And while this claim appears to be backed up with proof, another group that calls itself Clonaid claims to have cloned a sixth human being, born a week ago in Australia. But Clonaid has yet to provide a stitch of proof about this or the presumed five other clonings.

Joining me now from Sydney, Australia, is Dr. Brigitte Boisselier, the CEO of Clonaid, who says that she is in Australia to oversee this 6th cloned human. And in Miami, Florida, the head of the quasi-religious Raelian movement, which is linked to Clonaid, Rael, the leader formerly known as Claude Vorilhon.

Thank you both for coming. Appreciate it.

Doctor, to you first. A lot of people say you are lying, that there is no child, there is no cloning, it is all fiction. What do you say?

Dr. BRIGITTE BOISSELIER, CEO, CLONAID: Well, I say that you have seen that there are some other people who are able to do it with a high success rate. We have a higher success rate, because we have been studying earlier. And I’m very pleased that we are joined with other scientists.

To clone a human being is not complicated, and it’s easier than to clone any other mammals. We found that out, and that’s why we are so successful. People can say this is a hoax. I’m saying this is the reality. If...

CAVUTO: Then doctor, prove it. Prove it. Show me pictures of one of the -- any of these kids, if they are out there. Everyone is saying that, you know, because you haven’t shown anyone you must be lying.

BOISSELIER: Well, I have shown pictures. There are pictures on our Web site. And you know that. But when I show pictures, people are saying, who can prove that this is a cloned child? And so it goes on and on.

We have -- I think we have found a means to prove that. And I think by the end of March you will have it, OK? But don’t...

CAVUTO: The end of March? Wait a minute. I want to be clear. Wait a minute. So at the end of March, we’re going to have proof that this exists, right?

BOISSELIER: Yes, because I think we can have samples that can be shown with different age. I mean, you can have the same DNA and different age, and this can be proven without jeopardizing too much the life of the children and the child and the father. But you have to realize that if I show you the proof, just in my country I could face 20 years in jail.

Should I be foolish enough to give you the proof that will put me in jail? I think the answer...

CAVUTO: I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, doctor.

Rael, I want to raise something with you. Alan Bouchard (ph), a sociologist specializing in this sort of stuff, was saying of your claim, and the group’s claim about this cloning, that "The more time passes the more we are sure that cloning is just hogwash. They’re guilty of a publicity stunt."

What do you say to that?

RAEL, LEADER OF RAELIAN MOVEMENT: Are you talking to me?

CAVUTO: Yes, I am.

RAEL: You know, one more time, there is no link between the cloning company, Clonaid, led by Dr. Boisselier, and the Raelian movement. Absolutely no link. And I learned about the sick child as the same time as you by watching the news.

CAVUTO: Well, let me ask you, do you believe the doctor? She said they cloned a 6th human being. Do you believe it?

RAEL: I know her for a long time, and everything she said it was always true. So I have no reason to doubt what she says. Until somebody can prove me she’s lying, I trust her.

CAVUTO: All right, Rael, because here’s my worry with this whole Clonaid thing -- and I don’t know whether you’re directly linked to it or not -- we can’t find a firm address for it. We can’t find a board of directors. All we know is that there are two employees, yet they’re charging dozens of prospective clients upwards of $200,000 a piece.

To me it sounds like you are taking advantage of infertile couples or dying folks who desperately want to see a reproduction of a human body. What do you think?

RAEL: I trust Dr. Boisselier. I think she is somebody who is earnest, and I think she has proven in the past, because everybody was saying it is not true, and then the FDA closed the laboratory in America. So there was a laboratory. And now she has a new laboratory, somewhere, I think.

She hides it very carefully, because some countries will prosecute her. And I think she’s perfectly right to do it in secret location. And that is good. And she has thousands of people who support her. And she’s an earnest person.

CAVUTO: Doctor, let me ask you this: there have been a lot of people in this country opposed to cloning and concerned about the claims that you have made. And one of them is Bernard Segal (ph). He’s a Florida lawyer, who told Reuters not long too ago -- and I hope I’m quoting here correctly -- "People are trying to laugh them off, but there are plenty of people who are gullible who believe what Clonaid says, and they fall victim to their scheme. He goes on to say, "It is terrible they prey on people who have these hopes."

What do you say to that?

BOISSELIER: You know, they are not a majority. You should see the people in the street are cheering me up. You made it (ph), and congratulations. The people asking me, calling me, saying, "We’d like to be cloned" or "We’d like to support you."

You are talking -- when you talk about the people like Bernard Segal (ph), you are talking about someone who would like some publicity. But, you know, they are a minority. And you should realize that you, as the media, that you are talking about monster, about defects, about a hoax. But the people in the street do not believe you.

They do realize that having a baby, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) cloning, is having a child, a desired child, and is helping a lot of people. What is wrong with...

CAVUTO: Doctor, let me get a couple of things straight here. Doctor, I have to tell you, I’ve got historic (ph) facts here, all right? How much do you charge people to take part in your organization?

BOISSELIER: Right now, I haven’t been charging anybody, because the 30 implantations we have done were part of our development. So I have been paying everything.

Of course the parents came to us, and it has been for some of them a long flight, and they had to pay for the accommodations and so on. But they got a baby at this price. We never charge anyone. Now that we have proven that we can have six children born to Clonaid, and we have seven more coming in the next two weeks...

CAVUTO: You have seven more coming in the next two weeks? And you are saying that in Australia if you said anything you would be guilty of a crime, even though in Australia cloning is not illegal.

BOISSELIER: It’s not legal here, and I haven’t done anything here. They are just -- a child was born, and it is not illegal to have a child here. But the baby was...


CAVUTO: So Doctor, see -- Doctor, you are driving me nuts here. That is what I’m asking then. If it’s not illegal in Australia, and you say you are afraid of being put into prison if you give proof that you cloned yet another child, show us -- wait a minute. Show the child. Show the other...

BOISSELIER: I’m a French citizen. I’m a French citizen. If I go to France right now, I would face 20 years in jail.

The United Nations is saying it is a crime against humanity. And if it passed that, then I could maybe not be able to travel around the world anymore. I have to face that. You want me to be foolish enough to give you the proof so that I can face...


CAVUTO: Here what is I’m saying. But Rael, here’s what I’m saying. If you have the proof, and you’re already talking about the fact that you can clone in this organization and can clone human beings, you’ve already let the genie out of the bottle, right?

Say it. Show it. Prove it.

RAEL: I there is a mistake. There is a mistake. You misunderstood Dr. Boisselier. It’s illegal in Australia.

CAVUTO: Now Australians tell me it is not illegal. They recommend highly against it, but they will not throw you into prison if you do it. So here she is in Australia talking about it, and there is no law against it.

RAEL: No, it is illegal in Australia.

CAVUTO: OK. I’m getting a different story from the Sydney authorities who tell me that it is not illegal.

Go ahead, doctor.

BOISSELIER: It is illegal to do it, and the government of Australia is asking me to prove that I haven’t done it here. And they are -- there is an investigation here going on in Australia.

So this is what I’m facing when I go to countries. But it is not a reason for me to stop it. I have been helping those people, and I will help more Australian people.

I’m not doing anything wrong in this country. I’m not implanting any of -- or preparing any embryo. So I’m not doing anything illegal. It would be illegal if I was doing it here. But it is not.

But, still, the Australian government is trying to find out whether I did it here. And I have to prove that I haven’t don’t here. So it is that way everywhere.

CAVUTO: Well, here’s what I want to know, guys. And Rael, maybe you can help me with this. I know there are a lot of infertile couples out there, and I know there are a lot of people dying out there desperate to see and take advantage of the kind of technology that you offer. And I have a sneaking suspicion -- and I could be wrong and just jaded -- that they’re going to be woefully disappointed, that they’re going to give this organization some money in the desperate hope that either they’re going to be able to make a child or to...

BOISSELIER: How can you say that?

CAVUTO: ... or to make a human being. And you guys have just led them on and taken money out of their wallet.

BOISSELIER: How can you say that? I’m sorry, you have to realize that each time that someone wants to be cloned with us, then they are asking for proof. Do you think they are foolish enough to go ahead and...

CAVUTO: So you have shown -- wait a minute. OK. That’s a good point. You have shown them proof?

BOISSELIER: Everyone one of them for the last 20 implantations had access to the first cloned babies. It is part of -- I mean, they are not foolish. And you are talking about something you don’t know.

CAVUTO: Well, doctor, I would love -- I would love to believe you, doctor, and I would love to talk to these families and couples and get them on and say, hey, here’s my baby, here’s my -- they are not coming. They’re not out there.

BOISSELIER: If you want to, go ahead. If you want to be cloned, you come to us and you will see what kind of -- how we proceed for you to go ahead. And you’ll see that it is very responsible, and we are counseling you. And you will go through all the necessary -- under strict confidential agreement, and you won’t be able to say that on television, but I’m telling you that is how we proceed.

CAVUTO: All right.

BOISSELIER: Even -- you have been seeing Rodney Dangerfield was one of our potential customers who went public. And he said that is what he was going through.

CAVUTO: All right. In the meantime, Rael, you claim -- go ahead.

RAEL: No, just an important thing. You say -- again, you guys are taking the money. Dr. Boisselier owns the company, which is -- which uses the label Clonaid. Of course the company is another name, and it belongs to her. So you are trying to make the people believe that...

CAVUTO: So why are you here? Why are you here?

RAEL: I am -- because you invite me.

CAVUTO: All right. But why are you always linked with her?

RAEL: Because she’s a part of the Raelian movement. It’s a religion. It’s a philosophy, like a very famous...


CAVUTO: But don’t act like you’re disassociating yourself from her. You are here.

RAEL: Because you invite me.

CAVUTO: All right. Well, all right.

RAEL: And a very famous American journalist says, if Dr. Boisselier was Buddhist, would you invite the Dalai Lama to talk, exactly the same thing. I would not refuse to come to talk because I support the right for human cloning, stem cell research, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and nanotechnology.

CAVUTO: So let me ask you, Rael, if she gets into trouble, let’s say she is misrepresenting something -- not that that’s happening, but let’s say it does -- would you still stick by her?

RAEL: Of course we will, because, you know, our value to give people trust and to forgive when they make mistake, that is also a Christian value which is very well formed by the world right now, to forgive people who make mistakes. Now you are in vengeance. People want to kill because of September 11.

CAVUTO: All right, Rael.

RAEL: They killed 30,000 Iraqis or some Iraqi civilians. This is not Christian.

CAVUTO: Rael, you’re going all over the map here. Thank you very much. Next time, I would love to have you back here with parents who have actually benefited from this. But Rael and doctor, thank you very much.

That’s me in triplicate there. I cloned myself.

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