Ohio Senate Votes to Ban Minotaurs


Following the lead of Arizona, the Buckeye State's senatorial solons have passed a bill banning the creation of "human-animal hybrids." A press release from the Ohio Christian Alliance hails the proposed ban:

Ohio Christian Alliance President Chris Long made the following statement, "For the past seven years, OCA has been working tirelessly with members of the Ohio Legislature to ban embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and in recent years, animal-human hybrid. Science has advanced to the point where DNA from animals and humans can be intermixed in scientific laboratory experimentation. This is simply outrageous! Animal-human hybrid research is currently being conducted in England, which many in the international medical community now consider to be a rogue medical state. It is unknown how many U.S. laboratories are currently conducting similar research.

Among other activities, the Ohio bill would ban:

(a) A human embryo into which a nonhuman cell or a component of a nonhuman cell is introduced so that it is uncertain whether the human embryo is a member of the species homo sapiens;

(b) A hybrid human-animal embryo produced by fertilizing a human egg with a nonhuman sperm;

(c) A hybrid human-animal embryo produced by fertilizing a nonhuman egg with a human sperm;

(d) An embryo produced by introducing a nonhuman nucleus into a human egg;

(e) An embryo produced by introducing a human nucleus into a nonhuman egg;

(f) An embryo containing at least haploid sets of chromosomes from both a human and a nonhuman life form;

(g) A nonhuman life form engineered with the intention of generating functional human gametes within the body of a nonhuman life form;

(h) A nonhuman life form engineered such that it contains a human brain or a brain derived wholly from human neural tissues.

The Ohio bill would punish such "rogue" research by throwing perpetrators into jail for one year or imposing a fine of $250,000 or both.

As far as I know, only (e) and (h) have been attempted. For example, in 2008 "rogue" British researchers introduced a human nucleus into a hollowed out cow egg and managed to get it to grow to the 32 cell stage. The goal of the research is to create stem cells that might one day be used to figure out the genetic roots of illnesses and/or eventually to cure diseases by developing transplantable cells and tissues.

With regard to inducing human brain cells to grow in animals, researchers at Stanford University did this back in 2005 by injecting human embryonic stem cells into the brains of mouse fetuses. The goal is to research the development of human brain diseases and create better models for testing drugs to cure such diseases.

The Ohio bill is very similar to a couple of bills introduced some years back by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback. In two columns, "Brownback's Chimerical Attempt to Curb Science" and "Senators Brownback and Landrieu Want to Outlaw Centaurs and Minotaurs," I discuss some of the valuable research that would be derailed by such bans.