I saw an article in the latest issue of the online Catholic Herald about human-animal “chimera” embryos - Chimeras should be treated as human beings, argue bishops - and I'm disturbed on a whole number of levels, partly because the Church stance seems to have sidestepped the weird science on a tangent, and then there's the weird science itself.
But first, what is a chimera? The word reminds one of Greek mythology and the creature created from a number of different animals. But here we're talking about genetically engineered combination beings ... you know, like the tomatoes with fish genes, or spider-goats. This is (or was) the stuff of science fiction and I have a few short stories on the subject that I wrote a few years ago (like Spidergoat), but it's been reality for some time - Animal-Human Hybrids Spark Controversy / National Geographic News 2005. Though I love science fiction, I guess that at my core, I'm one of those retro greens who hate the very idea of real life plant/animal transgenetics ... and animal/human hybridization? Yikes! It's not about religion vs science, it's more a response to an inner queasiness ... hard to explain.
But enough about me, here below is the beginning of the article from the Catholic Herald ...
The English and Welsh bishops have asked for human-animal “chimera” embryos to be accorded the status of human beings and to be respected as such by law.
The bishops said they were “opposed in principle to many of the procedures” covered by the draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill which, they said, “should not be licensed under any circumstances”.
But in a surprising move they made it clear that they believed women should be able to give birth to human-animal “chimeras” created artificially by scientists in the future.
At present it is illegal to create embryos using a mixture of human and animal genetic material.
But the Government is proposing to allow scientists, for the first time ever, to create chimeras under the terms of the Bill, which will be introduced in the autumn.
Ministers insist that the chimeras – named after the mythical creature made up of a lion, a goat and a serpent – will be created solely for research in the fight against cancer and other diseases.
It will be against the law to allow them to live longer than two weeks or to implant such embryos into a woman.
But the bishops, in a submission to a Parliamentary committee set up to scrutinise the Bill, said: “We oppose the exclusion of interspecies embryos from the definition of embryo in the Act. At the very least, embryos with a preponderance of human genes should be assumed to be embryonic human beings, and should be treated accordingly.
“In particular, it should not be a crime to transfer them, or other human embryos, to the body of the woman providing the ovum, in cases where a human ovum has been used to create them. “Such a woman is the genetic mother, or partial mother, of the embryo; should she have a change of heart and wish to carry her child to term, she should not be prevented from doing so.” .......
What do you guys think of all this ... my mind boggles
Related reading - saw this article today at the Times Online - Master of Creation?