Brits to Allow Human/Animal Combo Embryos

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Last year the British government proposed outlawing research on chimeric embryos created using animal eggs and human genes. British scientists objected and it now looks as though the Labour government is going to back down from its ban.

Meanwhile Republican presidential hopeful, Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.), has introduced legislation that would ban such research in the United States. I explain why Brownback's Human Chimera Prohibition Act is scientific know-nothingness here and I conclude:

This quick review shows that current experiments using chimeric animals and embryos do not threaten our "respect for human dignity and the integrity of the human species." Ultimately, the Human Chimera Prohibition Act is a misbegotten legislative blunderbuss that would criminalize much valuable research aimed at curing human diseases. We can afford to wait until we hear that a Harvard or Stanford institutional review board has approved an experiment to produce a humanzee before Congress needs to act.

Despite the good news that the UK ban is being lifted, opposition still exists. The Beeb reports:

But Josephine Quintavalle, of the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, disagreed, saying: "It is appalling that the government has bowed to pressure from the random collection of self-interested scientists and change its prohibitive stance.

"This is a highly controversial and terrifying proposal, which has little justification in science and even less in ethics.

"Endorsement by the UK government will elicit horror in Europe and right across the wider world."

Whole BBC article here.

NEXT: Backtracking Our Way to Safety

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  1. Hey, they could cross me with a horse…already done.

  2. Oh man I am SO ready to start drinking

  3. Mr. Bailey, we’ll see if you’re still celebrating this “good news” when BritishManBearPig comes scratching, scratching, scratching at your door.

  4. Humanzee, Chuman, whatever.

  5. Stevo – I’d guess the horror (the horror!) would happen if said BritManBearPig were to smile…

    *shudders

  6. Man, and I thought the “Pepperoni Pizza” Combos were bad enough. But “Human/Animal embryo” flavored Combos sounds really gross.

  7. Would that be “ManBlairPig”?

  8. Hey, they could cross a turkey with a duck with a chicken. They could call it a “chiducky.”

  9. Whether or not this is a good idea, I fear that it may reduce support for embryonic stem cell research in general. It just sounds way too freaky.

  10. I bet this whole thing is being bankrolled by Vince McMahon.

  11. As always, American medicine is far ahead of the Brits, even in interspecies research. It’s a military thing, of course.

  12. I heard that Dr. Moreau, MP-Blackpool, was a leader in introducing this legislation. If only we had such enlightened men of medicine on this side of the Atlantic!

  13. From the most recent science

    Science 18 May 2007:
    Vol. 316. no. 5827, pp. 996 – 997
    Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science
    Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg

    “This resistance will persist through adulthood if the scientific claims are contested within a society, and it will be especially strong if there is a nonscientific alternative that is rooted in common sense and championed by people who are thought of as reliable and trustworthy. This is the current situation in the United States, with regard to the central tenets of neuroscience and evolutionary biology. These concepts clash with intuitive beliefs about the immaterial nature of the soul and the purposeful design of humans and other animals, and (in the United States) these beliefs are particularly likely to be endorsed and transmitted by trusted religious and political authorities (24). Hence, these fields are among the domains where Americans’ resistance to science is the strongest.”

  14. Hi, Warren.

    I replied to you on the thread about the immigration bill.

    Hope you’re having a good week.

    joe

  15. I just want a monkey with four asses. Or an ostrich with four asses. Or maybe a mongoose with four assess.

    Then again, who wouldn’t want a little bunny fish?

  16. Not entirely appropriate due to the procedure under discussion, but these sorts of stories always bring this song to mind:

    In a jungle of the senses
    Tinkerbell and Jack the ripper
    Love has no meaning, not where they come from
    But we know pleasure is not that simple
    Very little fruit is forbidden
    Sometimes we wobble, sometimes we’re strong
    But you know evil is an exact science
    Being carefully correctly wrong

    Priests and cannibals, prehistoric animals
    Everybody happy as the dead come home
    Big Black Nemesis, parthenogenesis
    No one move a muscle as the dead come home

    We feel like Greeks, we feel like Romans
    Centaurs and monkeys just cluster round us
    We drink elixirs that we refine
    from the juices of the dying
    We are no monsters, we’re moral people
    and yet we have the strength to do this
    This is the splendour of our achievement
    Call in the airstrike with a poison kiss

    Priests and cannibals, prehistoric animals
    Everybody happy as the dead come home
    Big black nemesis, parthenogenesis
    No-one move a muscle as the dead come home

    How bad it gets, you can’t imagine
    the burning wax, the breath of reptiles
    god is not mocked, he knows our business
    Karma could take us at any moment
    Cover him up…..I think we’re finished
    You know it’s never been so exotic
    but I don’t know, my dreams are visions
    We could still end up with the great big fishes

    Priests and cannibals, prehistoric animals
    Everybody happy as the dead come home
    Big black nemesis, parthenogenesis
    No-one move a muscle as the dead come home

  17. You know how much an ostrich poops? You’d THINK they have four asses.

  18. Neu Mejican,

    Funny, I’m not religious, yet I regularly question scientific claims (and I’m trained in the physical sciences). In my experience, scientists are just as flawed and dishonest as everyone else (excepting pols, who are liars by nature). Scientists make plenty of claims that don’t hold up to scrutiny. A good an honest scientist will say, “Don’t take my word for it; prove it to yourself!” Good and honest scientists don’t make arrogant statements like the one you quoted.

  19. Real bill,

    Read the whole article.

    Paul Bloom is absolutely a good and honest scientist.

  20. Disgusting. Hopefully this kind of freak science is never legal in the US.

  21. But… me…. that means that you‘d have to go (I already called dibs)

  22. >who wouldn’t want a little bunny fish?

    i can’t deny, i am a big fan of hello kitty in a bunny suit. the monkey suit, not quite as much, but to each her own…

  23. The Brits, of course, have the film tradition in the area…

    http://www.geocities.com/malcolmtribute/britannia.html

  24. Disgusting. Hopefully this kind of freak science is never legal in the US.

    Yeah, like they should have never let scientists start screwing around with sheep, those fucking whiny diabetics.
    You turd sampler.

  25. Barry Andrews Troll:

    Mmm, I think “Malaria” or “Fish Below the Ice” off that album fit better.

  26. I just want a monkey with four asses. Or an ostrich with four asses. Or maybe a mongoose with four assess.

    Then again, who wouldn’t want a little bunny fish?

    They should make mermaids. Come on, no bioethicist can have a problem with that.

  27. Paul Bloom may well be a good and honest scientist, and I’m really not disagreeing with the conclusions (they seem rather common sensical; I overreacted a bit), but evolutionary biology isn’t real science; it’s more philosophy. Neuroscience is real science, but it’s in its infancy.

  28. >Mmm, I think “Malaria” or “Fish Below the Ice” off that album fit better.

    Really? Why?

    “Nemesis” has always struck me as being about scientific tinkering in areas that could be considered morally questionable. Lines like “we drink elixirs that we refine from the juices of the dying,” or the refrain about “parthenogenesis” which leads me to believe they’re referring to some Jurassic Park type scenario (“no one move a muscle as the dead come home.”) The song specifically refers to science. And what about “we are not monsters, we’re moral people, and yet we have the strength to do this.”

    Truthfully, I can’t make head nor tail of “Fish Below the Ice” (hee hee). If you can, I’m impressed.

    As for “Malaria,” what do “I’ve got a love and it won’t stop burning,” and “I want to live with Halo Jones” have to do with science? Not that I can make sense of that song either. But I do think it’s way awesome and every bit as genius a dance song as “Nemesis.” I particularly love the backing vocals.

  29. The Real Bill,

    “but evolutionary biology isn’t real science”

    I guess you are the arbitor of “real” given your moniker, but I am sure there are many honest productive scientist working in evolutionary biology producing reliable replicable findings that would disagree…

    I don’t know if you consider yourself a scientiest because you were “trained in the physical sciences” but honest scientists don’t make arrogant statements like the one you make above.

    ;^)

    Darwin was an evolutionary biologist.

  30. God-Schmod – I want my monk-man!

  31. Or rather, “Monkey-Man”

  32. How long before this Shel Silverstein song becomes prophetic?

    MERMAID
    (Shel Silverstein – Jim Friedman)
    ? ’65 Evil Eye Music

    When I was a lad in fishing town an old man said to me
    You can spend your life your jolly life just sailing on the sea
    You can search the world for pretty girls till your eyes’re weak and dim
    But don’t go swimming with the mermaid son if you don’t know how to swim

    Cause her hair is green as seaweed and her skin is blue and pale
    And I tell you now before you start you can love that girl with all your heart
    But you’re just gonna love the upper part you’re not gonna like the tail

    So I signed onto a whaling ship and my very first day at sea
    I seen a mermaid in the waves a reaching out to me
    Come live with me in the sea said she and down on the ocean’s floor
    I’ll show you a million wonderous things you never seen before

    So over I jumped and she pulled me down down to her seaweed bed
    And the pillow made of tortoise shell she placed beneath my head
    She fed me shrimps and caviar upon the silver dish
    From her head to her waist she was my taste but the rest of her was a fish

    Her hair was green as seaweed and her skin was blue and pale
    And her face it was a work of art and I loved that girl with all my heart
    But I only loved the upper part I did not like the tail

    Then one day she swam away and I sang to the clams and whales
    I missed her fence and her seaweed hair and the silvery shine of her scales
    Then her sister she swam by and set my heart awhirl
    Cause her upper part was an ugly fish but the bottom part was a girl

    Yeah her toes are pink and rosy and her knees are smooth and pale
    And her legs they are a work of art and I love that girl with all my heart
    I don’t give a damn bout the upper part and that’s how I end my tale

  33. Hey, they could cross a turkey with a duck with a chicken. They could call it a “chiducky.”

    Why stop there? Combine a chicken, a cat, a mustang, a raccoon and a gorilla and call it a “chattanooga.”

  34. I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
    combing the white hair of the waves blown back
    when the wind blows the water white and black.

  35. “Neuroscience is real science, but it’s in its infancy.”

    You are being quite charitable here.
    Much of it is no better than augury and divination.

  36. “chimeric embryos created using animal eggs and human genes”

    I support this product and/or service.

    On one condition…

    Sexy cat women with no higher brain functions.

    For sale.

    At Walmart.

    You savvy?

  37. “”Neuroscience is real science, but it’s in its infancy.”

    You are being quite charitable here.
    Much of it is no better than augury and divination.”

    No branch of science is immune to this…but still progress is made in understanding.

    String Theory anyone?

    http://www.thetroublewithphysics.com/

  38. “Endorsement by the UK government will elicit horror in Europe and right across the wider world.”

    Another one of those wooly comments that originte from the “You Need US!” camp (you know, the statists)

  39. but evolutionary biology isn’t real science; it’s more philosophy.

    That is silly. There is nothing philosophical about natural selection.

  40. Neu Mejican,

    IMO, real science requires controlled experimentation. String theory is math (or theoretical physics), not “really” science (until validated by experiment). Philosophy is a catch-all term; maybe I should have distinguished between experimental (real) science and observational science, instead of saying philosophy. Here’s a heirarchy:

    1) Experimental science–physics, chemistry, some bio fields, etc.
    2) Observational science–evolutionary biology, archeology, etc.
    3) Philosophy–a bunch of other disciplines

    People sometimes equate all scientific disciplines as having equally valid conclusions. I have a problem with this. I’ll try to be more careful in the future when throwing around words like “real”.

  41. So does this mean that beastiality wouldn\’t be beastiality anymore? \’Cause for some reason, I\’ve been very sexually attracted to my cat lately and it\’d be nice to get some joy.

  42. ‘Cause for some reason, I’ve been very sexually attracted to my cat lately and it’d be nice to get some joy.

    Hint: Make darn sure the cat agrees before you get her close to that part of your anatomy.

  43. “Will the mass release of genetically engineered organisms into our biosphere mean genetic pollution and irreversible damage to the biosphere in the twenty-first century?” That the corporations want it is a sign of some kind. That the military will find a way to use it and fund secret projects is absolute.

  44. The Real Bill:
    How is astrophysics different than evolutionary biology? I don’t think you can lump all of physics together as a giant, amorphous, credible mass.

  45. Good God! The Sci Fi network will become The Reality TV network!

  46. Real Bill,

    “IMO, real science requires controlled experimentation. ”

    Okay.

    But your list is bunk.There is much more synergy between observation and experiment in all fields than you are acknowledging. Science is much messier than all that.

    http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/feyerabe.htm

  47. “People sometimes equate all scientific disciplines as having equally valid conclusions. I have a problem with this.”

    The problem is applying the term valid at the level of discipline. Validity only applies at the level of individual claims/experiments/observations.

  48. Hint: Make darn sure the cat agrees before you get her close to that part of your anatomy.

    I don’t think agreement from the cat will help matters. Even when cats want it, and even encourage it, cat sex involves much biting and scratching.

  49. It boggles my mind to imagine the necessary bra and lingerie items for the hybrid cat women. I picture bras with 10 cups on them.

    Oh hell yeah! C’mon geneticists and get going on that!

  50. This is clearly the result of a state run church. I demand separation of church and state.

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