The journalist who said he would oversee DNA testing of the first reputed human clone said today he had dropped his efforts and could not rule out the possibility of "an elaborate hoax."
Officials with Clonaid, the company that announced Dec. 27 the birth of the world's first clone, initially promised DNA testing but backed off. Clonaid said the parents of the seven-pound baby girl have refused to allow it.
"The team of scientists has had no access to the alleged family and, therefore, cannot verify firsthand the claim that a human baby has been cloned," said Michael Guillen, a former ABC science editor who had offered to arrange the testing.
Clonaid was founded by the Raelian religious sect, which believes space aliens created life on Earth, and chief executive Brigitte Boisselier acknowledges that outside DNA testing would be needed to make the claim credible.
In a statement, Guillen said he had assembled experts to do the work but suspended the effort today. "It's still entirely possible Clonaid's announcement is part of an elaborate hoax intended to bring publicity to the Raelian movement," he said.
Guillen indicated he was still willing to proceed. "When and if an opportunity to collect DNA samples as promised does arise, however, the team stands fully prepared to remobilize and conduct the necessary tests."
The freelance journalist said previously he had no connection to Clonaid. But he said in his statement today he has been interested in doing a documentary on human cloning that would involve Clonaid's work.
The New York Times reported Sunday that Guillen tried months ago to sell exclusive coverage of Clonaid's first baby to the major broadcast networks.
On Saturday, Boisselier said the baby's parents had promised to give her a final answer today about whether they would allow DNA tests.
Clonaid did not return phone calls today requesting a response.