25 July 2011

Rules for Dr. Moreau's heirs

Great Britain outlines the boundaries of what is permissible
when creating human-animal hybrids

Nikolay Tretyakov, Compulenta

The commission consisting of reputable scientists has prepared a report for the Government and Parliament, which will be used in the development of laws.

The British Academy of Medical Sciences has compiled an extensive report "Animals containing human material" for the Government and Parliament. Its authors – all eminent scientists – expressed and argued their views on the ethical side of creating animals with human cells and (or) genes, outlining the boundaries beyond which, in their opinion, it is impossible to cross, as well as naming areas of research that require special control. The time has come for this: In China, human stem cells are already being implanted in goat embryos, and in the USA, a study has been conducted on the possibility of creating mice with human neurons.

Led by Martin Bobrow, Professor of medical genetics at the University of Cambridge, the participants of the working group believe that attempts to give animals the traits that make up the human essence should become an area of special attention. Namely, interference with the brain and germ cells, giving animals (human) articulation apparatus, human facial expressions and skin.

Absolutely unacceptable is the "humanization" (the term of H. G. Wells, the author of "The Island of Dr. Moreau") of primates like chimpanzees, specifically, the modification of brain cells that can give rise to monkeys with self–awareness (it is impossible to resist the assumption that scientists were brought up on the classic movie "Planet of the Apes"). The authors of the report emphasize the difference between the humanization of primates and the creation of laboratory mice with human DNA elements necessary for the study of dangerous diseases.

Theoretically possible transgenic animals, for example, with human skin are located in the border zone. In each study, according to the report, it is necessary to correlate the real benefits (returns from medical experiments) of creating such a creature and the suffering that the animal, its cage neighbors and people working with it will experience.

The study of the report by the authorities of the country should lead to the development of legal acts and the creation of an expert council at the Home Office.

(Home Office) is a department of the British government, similar to the Ministry of the Interior in other countries – VM.)

He (together with the Ministry of Health) must promptly close up the gaps in the legislation and monitor its compliance. The authors of the report expect that Britain will give rise to a global process of discussing and approving bioethical norms when creating hybrids.

The debate is sure to be long; so, it can be immediately noted that anthropocentrism is already visible in the very formulation of the problem. Pundits insist on the "disgust" that people will feel for beings who are partially human, and try to protect the human essence from blurring and encroachments. But it would be very useful if someone gave an ethical assessment of animal modification not at the expense of "human material". What if an animal is rewarded with a developed brain, articulation apparatus, hairless skin, mimic abilities, and so on, without using human DNA or cells?

Conducted by the analytical company Ipsos MORI in 2010 , a survey of 1,046 Britons showed,
that a significant part of the islanders support the creation of chimeras for scientific purposes
(the areas of intervention are listed).

Prepared by Reuters (New rules urged on hybrid animal-human experiments) and Nature (The legacy of Doctor Moreau).

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru25.07.2011

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