YOU can’t have missed it if you still watch the news or read the papers: embryos have been made from combined monkey and human cells.
I am not sure that either of those essentially biblical words ‘made’ or ‘created’ are the appropriate ones for this monstrous and perverted piece of scientific hubris. The BBC tells us lightly that the experiment has ‘sparked ethical debate’. I should think it has.
The more important question is how this research was deemed acceptable and licensed in the first place? It took place in California, which may be part of the answer. The researchers are reported to have said that their work, which was published in the journal Cell, offered a way of studying early human development. ‘As we are unable to conduct certain types of experiments in humans, it is essential that we have better models to more accurately study and understand human biology and disease,’ said Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, from the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences, California.
Julian Savulescu, director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, has responded otherwise: ‘This research opens Pandora’s box to human/non-human chimeras. These embryos were destroyed at 20 days of development but it is only a matter of time before human/non-human chimeras are successfully developed.’
He believes that the key ethical question is: ‘What is the moral status of these novel creatures?’
I am not sure. Isn’t it also ‘Should science be allowed to operate outside any moral or ethical framework simply on the basis of what it can do and what is possible, however monstrous that might be?’
Feel free to discuss this or anything else on your mind.