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Alleged Cloning of Human Rekindles Debate of Genetic Copying

U.S. officials are reacting to unconfirmed claims that a Florida-based group has cloned a human. The report is rekindling the debate about legislation that would ban the cloning, or genetic copying, of human beings.

In 2001, the United States House of Representatives approved a bill banning all forms of human cloning. But a similar measure and a second cloning bill are deadlocked in the Senate.

The second bill would permit limited cloning of embryos to grow human stem cells, the origin of all cells in the body. The purpose would be to genetically engineer cell cultures to create therapeutic tissues for the possible treatment of human disease, such as Parkinson's, spinal cord injuries, and diabetes. "We have been cloning an animal since 1997," said Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, a sponsor of a bill that outlaws the cloning of human embryos for research, because he says a life form that is eventually destroyed to harvest stem cells, and in his view that makes it abortion.

"We do not have a single cure that is coming in those animal lines from the research that is creating those cloned animals. Why should we be creating cloned humans for research purposes now. So, if we agree that we should ban human cloning, I am all for it. Let us pass the House bill that the president said that he would sign, and let us get this going. We need to do it now," he said.

Senator Brownback made his comments on the television program Fox News Sunday.

Also appearing on the show was California Senator Dianne Feinstein, co-author of the stem cell research bill, who said the cloning technology does not involve the creation of human beings.

"I see no reason why medical research cannot go ahead. I think if only an unfertilized embryo is utilized, I think that removes the sort of abortion politics that have dominated this debate," Senator Feinstein said. The White House is proposing a four-year cloning moratorium to study the issue.