Great Britain is going to allow experimentation with human-animal embryonic hybrids. Ethicists, religious groups and others will be all over this. Get ready for some very public condemnation from key U.S. politicians and other public figures.
From the article: “It does seem a little abhorrent at first analysis,” said Newcastle University’s Doctor Lyle Armstrong, who helped to create the world’s first cloned human embryo in 2005. “But you have to understand we are using very, very little information from the cow in order to do this reprogramming idea. It’s not our intention to create any bizarre cow-human hybrid, we want to use those cells to understand how to make human stem cells better.”
So, as long as they use just a little tiny bit of cow, we can justify making human-embryo hybrids. However, this being a slippery slope, I suspect the definition of tiny tomorrow will become different than the definition of tiny today.
The creation of human-animal hybrids, in a sense, has been going on for some time. A male fertility test called the Hamster-Oocyte Penetration Test (HOPT) is used to determine if human sperm have egg penetrating ability by mixing them with specially-processed hamster ova. Because of the processing involved a viable hybrid probably (supposedly) cannot ever result.
But there it is. In a few short years we’ve progressed from human-hamster fertilization tests to human-cow fertilization tests. Eventually, perhaps in my lifetime, we may see some bizarre quasi-human life forms that result from even more “progress” in this field of research. The rapidity by which we progress, I think, will depend on whether or not there’s profit to be made from the results.