A cult that believes extraterrestrials created life on Earth by genetic engineering claims a newborn baby girl is the world's first human clone, a French news agency reports today. So far, there's no independent confirmation that the girl, born by Cesarean, is a clone. But Clonaid - a company owned by the Raelian cult - says the girl should be genetically identical to her 30-year-old mother.
An official announcement is expected today at a Clonaid news briefing. The Raelians say they expect four more clone births.
Clonaid has promised to have an "independent inspector" take DNA evidence from the newborn baby and mother.
Many scientists are skeptical about Clonaid's ability to accomplish the feat. The company was founded in the Bahamas in 1997 by Claude Vorilhon, a former French journalist and leader of the Raelians.
Vorilhon and his followers claim aliens visiting him in the 1970s revealed they had created life on Earth through genetic engineering.
Cloning produces a new individual using only one person's DNA. The process is technically difficult but conceptually simple. Scientists remove the genetic material from an unfertilized egg, then introduce new DNA from a cell of the animal to be cloned.
Under the proper conditions, the egg divides into new cells according to the instructions in the introduced DNA.
Clonaid's president, Brigitte Boisselier, identifies herself as a Raelian "bishop." She claims two chemistry degrees and previously was marketing director for a chemical company in France.