S.Korea offers help to US probe of clone claim sect

South Korea said that it was willing to provide US investigators with information in their probe of the Raelian sect which claims to have created the first two human clones.

Yonhap news agency quoted an official with the Seoul District Prosecutors Office Sunday as saying that South Korea would favourably consider providing the United States with information from its own investigations.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched an investigation last week into the claim by Clonaid, the sect's Las Vegas-based scientific arm, that it had cloned a baby called Eve.

"The FDA told us that they will embark on a full-fledged investigation into the human cloning (by Clonaid) if the information we are supposed to provide offers any clues," the official was quoted as saying.

Prosecutors stormed the local offices of the movement's affiliate in South Korea last Monday, saying they were probing possible Korean involvement in the Eve case and had banned two South Korean Raelian leaders from travelling abroad.

Clonaid's Korean subsidiary, BioFusion Tech Inc. based in the southern city of Daegu, has been under investigation since July after it said three South Korean women were involved in a human cloning experiment and one of them was pregnant with a cloned fetus.

The FDA wants to know more about the suspected human cloning project and the alleged connection between BioFusion and Clonaid in the United States, the official said.

The FDA recently said it will begin probing any illegal acts involved in the alleged cloning process.

Although human cloning is not illegal in the United States, any kind of human trials would have required FDA approval as of 1998.

In South Korea, human cloning is not yet illegal and a bill outlawing the practice is currently stalled in parliament.

The Raelian sect Saturday announced the birth of the world's second baby clone without offering any proof.

Raelian sect member Brigitte Boisselier, who heads Clonaid, said the second baby was born in northern Europe late Friday to a lesbian couple from the Netherlands.

A spokesman for the Dutch justice ministry said officials were waiting for proof of the reported birth before taking action.

The scientific community has poured cold water on the sect's clone claims which have yet to be independently confirmed.

"This whole affair is totally ridiculous," Rudolph Jaenisch from Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told AFP.

"In the absence of any scientific evidence, I have to believe that it's not true.

"They are extreme nuts," he added.

Raelians believe the human race on Earth was started by aliens who landed on our planet 25,000 years ago and created the first human being by cloning themselves.