Do clones really exist?

April 9, 2002

Brussels, 08 April 2002

Biologists from around the world will meet in London on 11 and 12 April in order to discuss whether or not eukaryotic clones really exist.

Jointly organised by the Royal entomological society and the Linnean society of London, the meeting on intraclonal genetic variation will challenge the widely held scientific and social belief that concepts of clonality are settled.

'It is hard to believe that 144 years after Darwin and Wallace's seminal papers on evolution, and the acknowledgement among biologists that living things mutate and adaptively radiate into novel ecological niches, that eukaryotic clones have somehow escaped this process of change and evolution. [...] Natural populations always vary, so how can you have a clone? It is a biological nonsense. If you believe in evolution, then you cannot believe in clonality, al least on in a strict genetic sense. It is the last bastion of pre-Darwinism,' says Dr Hugh Loxdale from the Institute of arable crops research in Rothamsted, UK.

The event will consider whether genetically identical clones actually exist, or whether it is merely convenient for scientists to assume that they exist. Dr Loxdale believes that if modern genetic techniques, such as DNA sequencing were used to test the entities that scientists describe as clones, genetic differences in clonal lineages would be shown.

The conference comes as controversial Italian fertility specialist Severino Antinori has announced that a woman taking part in his cloning programme is eight weeks pregnant. 'One woman among thousands of infertile couples in the programme is eight weeks pregnant,' Antinori is reported as having said at a meeting in the United Arab Emirates. If true, this would represent the first human cloning pregnancy.

For further information on the event, please contact:
Becky Allen
Royal entomological society
Tel: +44-1223-570016

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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