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Byline: Marilynn Marchione
MILWAUKEE, Wis. _ Prominent scientists called it "hot-dogging," "grandstanding" and "a failure" _ anything but a breakthrough _ and feared it would cause a backlash against important research.
President Bush and the Vatican denounced it as immoral, and religious leaders of many denominations urged Congress to ban it.
Many questioned the motives behind it.
Such were the reactions to a renegade biotechnology firm's claim to have created the first human embryos by cloning and through a second process that stimulates an egg to divide without having been fertilized by sperm.
Advanced Cell Technology of Worcester, Mass., says its cloning experiments aren't aimed at duplicating a person but at getting stem cells to treat diseases that wouldn't be rejected by the patient's immune system. Its embryos died before they produced stem cells, but the company says its experiments prove it can be done.
Some scientists, such as Stanford University's Paul Berg, who won a Nobel Prize for his work on genetically engineering DNA, disagree.
"I don't regard it as a medical breakthrough. I regard it, in sports parlance, as hot-dogging. It is almost a failed experiment."
Berg said the company, in making the announcement, "must have had another motive because it doesn't contribute any significant new knowledge." He predicted it would spur the Senate to follow the House of Representatives and vote to ban all forms of human cloning, even that aimed at beneficial scientific research rather than …