I met Boisselier at Las Vegas' Bellagio Casino in October to talk about progress on the human cloning front. She explained Raelians beliefs: that humans were created by extraterrestrial scientists thousands of years ago, and our ultimate goal lies in cloning ourselves in order to download our memories and experiences into a fresh body, as needed, and live forever. It's like a scientific version of heaven.
With this announcement, it seems their version of heaven may be within reach.
Kate Silver: Where is the company?
Brigitte Boisselier: The lab is outside of the United States on another continent, where it's legal.
KS: Are you working with people now?
BB: Yes, we have more than 10 cases that we've started with and are introducing about 20 more.
KS: Can you tell me details about them?
BB: They're from everywhere. Of the 20 of them I think there are six or seven who are infertile couples, 11 who are parents of a lost child. And there are two single women, one lesbian couple, and one homosexual male.
KS: What's the relationship between Clonaid and Raelians?
BB: You have to remember in 1997 when Dolly the sheep appeared. There was a huge reaction against cloning - human cloning, of course - and Clinton went up and said, "We have to ban that," and everybody was trying to stop it.
BB: As Raelians, we believed that cloning would be possible one day. Rael wrote that in his book back in 1973. When Rael said it was possible, people were laughing at him. Now, we were the ones laughing. So we were thrilled, and then very disappointed to see the reaction of the media and the establishment. That's why Rael founded Clonaid. It was like a religious leader saying, 'Well, you're all against it but I'm going to prove to you that it's not that bad. Actually, it's very good for humanity and we will do it.' But it's a private company, it has nothing to do with the Raelian movement.
KS: Doesn't it seem egotistical, wanting to create a smaller version of yourself, rather than two people having a baby?
|Dr. Brigitte Boisselier speaks to the media about cloning on December 27, 2002, at a hotel in Hollywood, Florida. A company associated with a group that believes extraterrestrials created mankind claimed Friday that it had produced the first clone of a human being. The company, Clonaid, announced it had created a healthy baby girl who was a clone of the 31-year-old American woman who gave birth to her. "I'm very very pleased to announce that the first baby clone is born," Clonaid director Boisselier, a former research chemist in France, said at the news conference. Photo by Reuters / Marc Serota|
BB: Why should we tell them not to do it? Who are we to decide what baby to have? If they want to have a baby looking exactly like Dad or Mom, who are we to tell them not to do it? They know the child will have the same face probably, the same physical appearance, the same behavior somehow, because a lot of our DNA is dictating our behavior, but not everything. We are also a result of our feelings, of what we learn through our surroundings, so if it's a choice, they should be allowed to do it.
KS: The United Nations may ban human cloning, and the United States already has. What are their fears?
BB: There is the fear and there is the response of people in the government. The public has been educated with very bad Hollywood pictures talking about defects, armies of clones, and that's what people have in mind when they think about clones. They don't think about a baby that has been denied to parents who can't have a child, or they are not thinking about someone who has lost a child and would like to have their baby twin. So the way people are looking at it is because they don't have the education.
KS: How do you respond to the fear of clones lacking a 'soul'?
BB: I don't believe in souls. I believe that if you look at the original term 'soul,' that is "animus" in Latin: It means "what makes us." And what makes me - I'm sorry - it's my DNA. It's the unique thing that drives me to what I am doing every day. And that's my 'soul,' and if it's transferred to my new body, that body has a new 'soul.' But I don't have a mystical way to look at people and life in general. I believe that we have been created by scientists who wanted us to be happy, and the only paradise we have is the only life we have.
KS: Do you believe in the bad-seed theory, that a child could be born bad or evil, and could that happen with a cloned baby?
BB: We are the results of our genes and the environment. If you have bad movies, you imagine bad things, but there's no scientific basis in that. So if I take your genes and reproduce you, there would be a baby born carrying your genes. So whether you have an evil gene in you, I don't know, but I don't think so, looking at you.
KS: But would you screen your clientele? Say a serial murderer came to you and wanted to be cloned.
BB: I don't know if a serial murder is genetically a serial murderer or if he is the result of his education and suffering in childhood. You don't know that. But a lot of people ask me, 'Would you clone Hitler?' I'm pretty sure that Hitler was a nice little sweet baby. And he suffered because he was short and dark haired in an environment of blond, blue-eyed people and he probably wanted revenge. But who am I to say that? I do believe that in every one of us there is a need to love. A true need to love. Some of us, despite the fact that they want to love so much, they have destruction in them and they are becoming the 'evil' you are talking about. But if you talk to those 'evil' people, you will see that somehow they are loving people.
KS: Will clone-banning legislation change in the U.S.?
BB: It's already started in California (it just passed a bill allowing for stem-cell research). And when they found the body of Chandra Levy, I remember two or three days later a woman wrote an article that said, 'I don't know that if I lost a child if I would consider cloning that child, but who am I to tell anybody that they shouldn't do it?' She was touched by the pain of the parents of this girl, and she realized there could be people who would love to give that genetic chance - a new chance to become somebody.This originally appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.