Senators Brownback and Landrieu Want to Outlaw Centaurs and Minotaurs

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) introduced the Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2009 earlier this week. The Act defines human-animal hybrids as:

(A) a human embryo into which a non-human cell or cells (or the component parts thereof) have been introduced to render the embryo's membership in the species Homo sapiens uncertain;

(B) a hybrid human/animal embryo produced by fertilizing a human egg with non-human sperm;

(C) a hybrid human/animal embryo produced by fertilizing a non-human egg with human sperm;

(D) an embryo produced by introducing a non-human nucleus into a human egg;

(E) an embryo produced by introducing a human nucleus into a non-human egg;

(F) an embryo containing at least haploid sets of chromosomes from both a human and a non-human life form;

(G) a non-human life form engineered such that human gametes develop within the body of a non-human life form; or

(H) a non-human life form engineered such that it contains a human brain or a brain derived wholly or predominantly from human neural tissues.

Engaging in such research could result in ten years in prison, a million dollar fine, or both. Let's see what research this act would ban. 

Provision (A) might prohibit research that aims at the creation of human organs in other animals suitable for transplant in human patients such as the work already done by Esmail Zanjani at the University of Nevada Reno. 

If the goal of provisions (B) and (C) is to prevent the creation of bovine/humans or canine/humans by interspecies mixing of sperm and eggs, they are superfluous since fertilization between species that widely separated by evolution is highly unlikely. On the other hand, perhaps the senators are worried about the creation of humanzees. Experiments from more than 30 years ago have shown that human sperm can penetrate gibbon eggs. In addition, the only known experiments in which a Russian biologist tried to fertilize chimpanzees using human sperm failed. Finally, would these provisions outlaw a fairly common IVF assay in which human sperm are tested for fertility using hamster eggs?

Provisions (D) and (E) would outlaw experiments in which researchers have already tried to produce stem cell lines using enucleated animal eggs into which human cell nuclei have been installed. The idea is that animal eggs, which are far more plentiful and easy to get than are human eggs, could be used to produce stem cell lines that were 99 percent human. Unfortunately, recent research has strongly suggested that this way of producing therapeutic stem cell lines will not work since animal eggs have failed to reprogram the human DNA into stem cells. So far as I can tell, given their scarcity, no one has tried to install animal nuclei into enucleated human eggs. Of course, this might change if it turns out that stem cells can be converted into eggs and sperm

Provision (F) is very much like Provisions (B) and (C) since the most likely to way to combine human haploid cells with animal haploid cells to produce a diploid embryo would be to combine animal and human eggs and sperm. Perhaps this provision would also outlaw the addition of any single human chromosome to an animal embryo and vice versa. 

Provision (G) would outlaw a technique in which human stem cells might be injected into an early animal embryo (say, a mouse) and some of those cells might differentiate into human sperm producing or egg producing cells in mice. Human gametes might then be harvested from the mice and combined using IVF techniques to produce a completely human baby. This far out technique could be used to produce viable sperm and eggs for people who are otherwise infertile. Of course, the safety of such a procedure needs to be rigorously verified, but it is not clear why it would be, ipso facto, ethically suspect. 

And Provision (H) would apparently ban experiments like the ones in which human embryonic stem cells are injected into the brains of embryonic mice where they develop into functioning human neurons. The idea is not to produce Stuart Littles but develop animal models to study human brain diseases. Doing a similar experiment with chimpazees gets closer to an ethical line since it is more likely that installing human brain cells in a chimp might confer some human characteristics, say language ability, on such a chimp/human chimera. So if that's what Brownback and Landrieu are really worried about they should advocate banning primate/human brain chimeras and leave the other research alone. 

Preventing the advent of human-animal hybrids and chimeras is an ongoing obsession of Sen. Brownback. He introduced similar legislation back in 2006. The senator from the Sunflower State explains why he introduced the bill:

"This legislation works to ensure that our society recognizes the dignity and sacredness of human life," said Brownback. "Creating human-animal hybrids, which permanently alter the genetic makeup of an organism, will challenge the very definition of what it means to be human and is a violation of human dignity and a grave injustice."

Nonsense. As the above review shows, current research which combines animal cells and genes with human cells and genes is not "a violation of human dignity and a grave injustice." Outlawing such research would be just such a violation and injustice. 

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  • KingShamus||

    Look, I'm all for centaurs and minotaurs. But then don't we have to build pristine forests and giant mazes for them?

    Seems like we're gonna get way more government intervention from the creation of these awesome expensive creatures.

  • hmm||

    As long as cyborgs are still okay.

  • ||

    Doing a similar experiment with chimpazees gets closer to an ethical line since it is more likely that installing human brain cells in a chimp might confer some human characteristics, say language ability, on such a chimp/human chimera.

    So? Bring it on.

  • ||

    Bart Simpson: God, schmod! I want my monkey man!

  • John Berger||

    I think I see a loophole, it only talks about embryo's which is awesome, I can still get that horse-**** grafted later this year.

  • ||

    Charlie: I think, maybe, I was a centaur in my past life.

    Buster: Well, something tells me you probably were never half man, half horse, but hell, what do I know? All I know is, you got a great attitude. So come on, you old son of a gun, and-and let Buster do a line off your boner.

  • cmace||

    "Preventing the advent of human-animal hybrids and chimeras is an ongoing obsession of Sen. Brownback."

    The guy thinks way too much about animals.

    brownback be running for Ks Governor next year. out of your hair but still in ours.

  • Tomcat1066||

    If we ban human/animal hybrids, wouldn't that effectively outlaw Henry Waxman?

  • ||

    She can shit in my backyard anytime.

  • kinnath||

    Doesn't this bill run afoul of the US constitution? I mean, it would require the dissolution of both the House and Senate because of the high ratio of human/jackass hybrids.

  • kinnath||

    too fucking late again. I should read the full thread before commenting.

  • bubba||

    This bill doesn't cover animal embryos injected with human cells?

    Isn't that the most likely way to wind up with a dog (or monkey) that has "just enough" human brain cells to give it speech and make it sentient?

    Seems like they got screwed by their science advisor...

  • kilroy||

    But good ol' fashioned sheep fucking is still okay, right?

  • ||

    a fairly common IVF assay in which human sperm are tested for fertility using hamster eggs?

    AHA!

    So THAT'S where Waxman came from!

  • mb||

    science cannot stop until it figures out how to make my skin glow in the dark. thats all i and MJ have ever wanted. is that so wrong?

  • ||

    But good ol' fashioned sheep fucking is still okay, right?

    As long as you ain't fucking boy boy sheep, fag.

  • Jozef||

    Given the usual hypocrisy of politicians, I assume that the two senators are already busy fucking animals in their closets.

  • alan||

    Williams sisters better look out. It is to the glue factory with you, you tennis dominating mares!

  • mb||

    planet of the apes continues its dogged march to relevancy.

  • ||

    STOP TALKING ABOUT WAXMAN...you're giving me nightmares.

  • ||

    There was a Russian scientist back in the 20s or 30s that was working on breeding chimp males with human females. IIRC he was trying to make a super strong dullard human for the military and production labor.

  • ||

    brotherben,

    One of the [not godwin] scientists in the [not godwin] camps tried impregnating women with Doberman sperm. I think he was also the one that tied together the legs of women in labor to see what happened.

  • ||

    IIRC he was trying to make a super strong dullard human for the military and production labor.

    In other words, he invented the first Southern Baptist singles' Sunday School class?

  • Ron Bailey||

    brotherben: Already linked to in the blogpost.

  • ||

    Damn, busted again for not RTFA.

    *hangs head in shame

  • ||

    I think the post clued us in on Waxman: Experiments from more than 30 years ago have shown that human sperm can penetrate gibbon eggs.

    Check the resemblance.

  • Rich||

    "Creating human-animal hybrids ... will challenge the very definition of what it means to be human ...."

    "Human" is not actually defined in the bill.

    "It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly, in or otherwise affecting interstate commerce--
    `(1) create or attempt to create a human-animal hybrid; ...."

    Gotta get that interstate commerce umbrella in, though.

  • ||

    brotherben, did he inspire Ivan Kragoff?

    I think somebody is scared of being replaced by Sen. Silverback.

    I'd prefer Olongo Featherstone-Haugh to a regiment of Draka-bred ghouloons, any day.

    Kevin

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    That picture is a fake, right?

    P.S. Dave Weigel lied again. It might be a good idea for a Reason editor to have a private chat with him, since just making things up isn't a good career builder. He also doesn't strike me as too "durable", if you know what I mean.

  • Xeones||

    Shut the fuck up, LoneWacko. We're trying to have a serious discussion about Waxman here.

  • James B.||

    (B) a hybrid human/animal embryo produced by fertilizing a human egg with non-human sperm;

    I think this makes Mr. Spock and B'ellana Torres illegal.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    What baout Taurans, Dark Elves, and Night Elves? Do undead count as non human? How will this affect dating in World of Warcraft? Does this mean I won't be able to marry that hot troll chick with the spiky hair?

    Let he without sin cast the first stone.

    p.s. I bet Brownback secretly dates an Orc Warrior.

  • ||

    Help! Herc! Help!

    Newton

  • ||

    NutraSweet, that gibbon is far better looking than Waxman. Hubba hubba.

    LoneRetard, your pathetic dedication to the stupidest criticism of Obama EVAR is charming, in the way that retarded monkeys are charming. You know the way I'm talking about.

  • Cream of Sum Yung Gai||

    It's been a while since I read any mythology, but aren't all centaurs male?

    And iven if there are a female body on a well hung horse would have made a more interesting picture. Tranny Centaurs are fucking scary!

  • Cream of Sum Yung Gai||

    "IIRC he was trying to make a super strong dullard human for the military and production labor."

    Wouldn't it have been easier to just invade Poland?

  • Jim||

    This research needs to be banned because it is fucked up.

  • Cream of Sum Yung Gai||

    "Let he without sin cast the first stone."

    Not cliche'. Sound policy.

  • Cream of Sum Yung Gai||

    "That picture is a fake, right?"

    You have to ask???

  • ||

    I clicked up the comments just to see what SugarFree what come up. He doesn't disappoint.

  • ||

    Our politicians can stomp on genetic research all they want, it only means that the breakthroughs will occur in some other country, and they will reap any rewards.

    In a decade or so Americans may find themselves traveling to other countries to get cutting edge medical treatments. Well, the rich will.

  • Mike Laursen||

    It's a good thing they're nipping this chimera thing in the bud. Before you knew it we'd have to provide single-payer health and veterinary care.

  • Stretchy||

    She gives new meaning to the phrase, "looks good from the waist up."

  • Rich||

    > This research needs to be banned because it is fucked up.

    "research" "ban"

  • Rich||

    Do over. Interchange "research" & "ban".

  • ||

    I clicked up the comments just to see what SugarFree what come up.

    Thank you. Fridays are when I usually at the peak of my powers, waiting to go home and drink. Tonight's victim: Hacker-Pschorr Munich Gold, the most perfect lager ever to get in my belly.

  • ||

    Having known several humans personally and knowing of many others I submit that there is no such thing as "a violation of human dignity".

  • cubfan415||

    I agree with that, dant.

  • tyron williams||

    that is bull shit

  • e anthony||

    tHESE SICK SOB'S NEED TO BE jailed

  • cubfan415||

    If Brownback and Landrieu want to outlaw centaurs and minotaurs, then Brownback and Landrieu must be total RETARDS! (Either that or they must be insane. Or real jerks. Or any or all of the above.)

  • ||

    I'd still ride that horse-lady any day.

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