Recently British regulators said they were prepared to allow the creation of embryos that are part human and part animal for use in medical experiments.

The prime goal of the research is to make embryos from which embryonic stem cells that may be medically useful (e.g. Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, cancer) can be extracted. The embryos would be made, not with human eggs, but by injecting human DNA into a cow or rabbit eggs whose own DNA has been largely, but not fully, removed.

Opponents of these procedures have raised the spectre of rogue scientists growing the  embryos into weird human-animal creatures. Others are concerned that these « chimera » might be transferred to women’s wombs where they might develop. McGill ethicist Margaret Somerville has often argued that this line of experimentation is the slippery slope leading to human cloning.

Scientists say these concerns are misplaced. British regulations demand that all embryos used in research must be destroyed 14 days after their creation. To those worried about a « cow-man » they respond that « it’s unlikely in the extreme that you could get a viable organism in this way. »

Because of their potential to ameliorate hu man diseases, would you support the creation of human-animal hybrids under strict regulation?

If you are opposed to this kind of experimentation on ethical grounds, what are those grounds?


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Barbara Says:

    I worry about the hubris in some scientists and would therefore close the lid on this kind of research. I would rather science explore less exotic means of harvesting stem cells than creating chimeras. There will always be one person who will want to let them develop to see what will happen. What responsibility would we have to those chimera, should any be viable?

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