Severino Antinori, the Italian fertility specialist notorious for helping a 62-year-old woman have a baby after in vitro fertilisation, sparked controversy again yesterday when he reiterated that he would move ahead quickly to clone a human being.

Antinori was speaking at the US National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC. The usually sedate surroundings, characterised by a thoughtful Albert Einstein outside the Academy's marble facade, were transformed into something of a circus, with TV cameras pursuing Antinori wherever he went.

Coming a little over a week after the US House of Representatives voted 265 to 162 to ban all cloning research — both for reproductive and therapeutic purposes — Antinori's claims will do little to soften political attitudes when the Senate considers the legislation.

The House vote came after lawmakers had also rejected a less restrictive measure that would have prohibited reproductive cloning, while leaving open the door for therapeutic...

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