Horizon: Cloning the First Human

Director: BBC
Year: 2001
Country: UK
Duration: 50 mins
Rating: N/A
More information (external website)

Filed under: Human Cloning, Documentary

Prof. Severino Antinori and Dr. Panyiotis Zavos intend to clone a human in the near future. In this film scientists who oppose them explain why they think the dangers involved are unacceptable. At an Oxford Union debate (2000) Dr. Zavos faces his critics among whom are Prof. Robert Winston (Hammersmith Hospital) and Dr. Harry Griffin (Roslin Institute). Infertile couples considering cloning may be unaware of the risks. Most attempts at cloning animals end in miscarriage or abnormalities. In cloned animals the gene which controls growth is often inefficient, leading to massively enlarged blood vessels, and vital organs may fail to function. Dr. Zavos believes that such problems in a cloned human foetus could be detected before birth but even if this were so, a baby could appear normal at birth and yet develop growth problems in childhood or adolescence. An assisted reproductive technique other than cloning, ICSI, may also carry risks. By this method sperm which are too weak to penetrate the ovum are injected into it. Scientists think that ICSI may be connected with abnormalities in the foetus. There is still a great deal to be discovered here. Cloning goes far beyond this and no human 'experiments' are possible - any attempt will be the real thing. On the basis of work done so far with laboratory animals, mainstream science condemns the cloning of humans.

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This Biomedical Ethics Film Library is being presented in partnership with European Medical Students' Association (EMSA)