After President Bush’s 2006 State of the Union, I wrote an op-ed for
the San Francisco Chronicle that tried to contextualize what many
thought to be his out-of-the-blue call for legislation to prohibit
human–animal chimeras. When I wrote the piece, the reported proportion
of human cells being injected into animal fetuses was relatively small
(circa 0.1%), which led some to discount ethical objections to this
research. Yet I did note:
this really comfort us? Is there any question that scientists may push
the envelope as far as they can, from 0.1 percent to 1 percent to 10
percent? Why not 100 percent?
Sadly, it looks like this may have become true sooner than I thought. It was reported this week that Esmail Zanjani
at the University of Nevada has created the first human-sheep chimera,
with 15% human cells. That’s right: the decimal point is to the right of the five.
biomedical rationale for this research is to create animals with organs
that could be transplanted into humans. Given the significant number of
people waiting for organ transplants, this is surely a laudable goal.
Yet substantial ethical considerations still remain.
procedures advance and transplanting organs from chimeras to humans
becomes more feasible, the proportion of human cells may come to rival
the number of animal cells. And we currently don’t even have the
language to think about these animals’ social and legal standing, let
alone any public policies to govern this research or these organs’ use.
now we face ethical questions about harvesting human body parts from
partial as well as from full humans. How to assess this is a difficult
question that deserves more thought than this blog post. What is clear,
however, is that mutton lovers might want to eat up now. Their favorite
dish may soon be regarded as a form of cannibalism.
Posted in Animal Technologies, Biotech & Pharma, Hybrids & Chimeras, Osagie Obasogie's Blog Posts
CommentsAdd a Comment
Comment by Krista, Oct 2nd, 2008 5:06am
Chimps and other primates can speak! Since they can use sign language, should they be given human rights? Some primates are smarter than humans but i do not feel like they should be given the same rights as us.
Comment by Thoughtful, Jan 13th, 2008 1:57pm
I think that chimeras should have human rights when their brains are similar to humans, brains and function similarly too. When the chimeras act like humans, they should be given the same rights as humans.