Cult aids S. African couple to have cloned baby: report

A South African couple would become the first in Africa to have a cloned baby in six months under the aid of a controversial cult, the Raelian Movement, the national newspaper Business Day reported on Monday.

Brigitte Boisselier, head of the cult's reproduction company, Clonaid, is now in South Africa to check up on a Pretoria-based couple who are expecting a cloned baby girl in six months, said the report.

A communication officer with the country's Department of Healthtold Xinhua that the ministry would not comment on the news immediately.

Clonaid shot to international infamy 18 months ago, when it claimed to have cloned two human babies, one to a couple in the United States, and another to a lesbian couple in the Netherlands.

The company's website claimed that a total of 13 cloned babies are now alive and all healthy, "and no problem has been found in any one of them that could be attributed to their mode of conception."

Clonaid's claims were disputed by the scientific establishment,and triggered widespread debate about the safety and ethics of cloning humans.

Boisselier told the newspaper "the whole topic of cloning is treated with abnormal fear." She said she came to South Africa to promote both human cloning and the Raelian Movement, which believes the human beings were created by space aliens, and sees cloning as the first step toward immortality.

The South African couple approached Clonaid because the man is infertile, and paid the company 100,000 US dollars, Boisselier said, neither revealing the couple's identity nor detailing the procedure