Churches fall out over ethics of cloning
A damaging row has erupted between Scotlandís two main churches over the issue of cloning which could hugely damage the credibility of churches speaking on such ethical issues reports the Scotsman.
The Catholic Church claimed that public opinion would have turned against animal cloning if there had been more publicity about the 276 failed attempts to produce the first cloned mammal, Dolly the Sheep, at the Roslin Institute in Midlothian.
Peter Kearney, the director of the Catholic media office, suggested that the failures had led to miscarriages, still-births and deformities before Dollyís birth in 1996.
Mr Kearney, who was briefing journalists said that the failures had been "kept completely out of the public domain". He added that if they had been more widely publicised, "there would have been quite strenuous calls from pro-life and animal welfare groups for that sort of research to stop."
But the Church of Scotland then accused the Catholic Church of being "out of touch with the facts".
Dr Donald Bruce, the director of the Church of Scotlandís society, religion and technology project, said the claims were inaccurate.
Dr Bruce, who sits on the ethics committee of PPL Therapeutics, a commercial arm of the Roslin Institute, said; "If the Catholic Church is claiming that the failures in cloning Dolly were hushed up, they are out of touch with the facts."
"This point was made clearly by the Roslin Institute themselves and the Church of Scotland, and was highlighted in the media."
Dr Bruce added the concerns also led to the farm animal welfare council, a government advisory body, recommending a moratorium on the commercial applications of animal cloning in 1998.
Dr Harry Griffin, the acting director of the Roslin Institute, also dismissed the claims as "total nonsense".
He said; "The Church is clearly not keeping up with the literature and commentary in the real world."
Dr Griffin added the Roslin Institute had repeatedly stressed the deficiencies of the cloning process, but there had been no still-births or miscarriages before Dolly was created. He said that of the 277 attempts, only 29 eggs progressed beyond the five-day-six-day stage, only 13 were implanted in ewes, and these produced just one pregnancy - which produced Dolly.