This is NOT the great danger I am speaking of, despite their continued importance.
In case you’re not up on the latest, chimeric (blending animal and human embryos) research definitions are as follows:
There are four types of human admixed embryos: cytoplasmic hybrids, true hybrids, human transgenic embryos, and human animal chimeras. Cytoplasmic hybrids are created by replacing the nucleus of an animal egg cell with one from a human cell. True hybrids are a combination of human and animal gametes. Human transgenic embryos are made by adding animal mitochondrial and nuclear DNA to human embryos. Finally, human animal chimeras are constructed by introducing animal cells into a human embryo.
They also discuss the concept of eugenics, and understand that these things must be addressed. They ask questions-
Besides debating about human-animal chimeric embryos, Dr. Cameron warned that people should not be distracted from other, perhaps even more important, issues. Eventually, the world will have to deal with eugenics. Should science give people new capabilities? What about machine intelligence? Dr. Cameron believes that issues of those kind are of greater significance, but they are not addressed as much because we are still discussing embryos, which he believes are a 20th century problem.
All of this is important to the debate. However I suggest that it doesn’t cover the real issues, NOT BY A LONG SHOT.
Animal to Human Disease Transmission Hysteria:
In addition to all of the above, recall that we have been inundated with a near-hysteria about the disease called ‘bird flu.’ We have spent BILLIONS worldwide trying to stamp out bird flu where ever it shows up, in order to prevent that disease from leaping from animal to human. A few humans have died, yes, but only a very few.
This ‘terror’ of an animal disease making that great leap into the human population has increased big brother by giving the USDA, FDA and Department of Homeland Security FAR MORE POWER to deal with animal populations, radio chip them, put resistant farmers like the Amish out of business, all in an effort to prevent bird flu and mad cow disease from creeping into the human population.
An Avenue Like No Other!
Animal/human hybrids will provide a direct avenue by which diseases that were formerly ONLY in animals will be able to enter the human population. Ebola virus and Marsburg’s disease were thought to be only in animals, and they are horrible diseases that have made the leap to the human population, without the benefit of blending human and animal DNA. Think how fast it would spread if it infected a creature who is both animal AND human and the means to infect the entire human population were gained by the viruses or bacteria?
The ‘Art and Science of Unintended Consequences’:
This unintended consequence doesn’t even show up in the discussions, no matter how many scientists are present!
Another considerations which it is NOT too soon to consider- once these creatures grow, they will want to reproduce. They will be able to reproduce with animals OR with humans. Unless they are distinctly MARKED, or animal features are prominent on the creature, you will not be able to tell if your son or daughter is dating someone who is part rat, part lizard, part spider, part cow.
Once reproduction begins, and these forms of humanoids are having ‘litters’, there will be NO STOPPING that genetic strain through the human population.
You can be sure that if these creatures become pregnant THEY WILL NOT ABORT THEIR YOUNG, and since they are unlikely to have a conscience (ONLY a human trait and a rare one anymore at that) other than what animals have, their ‘natural’ traits will include their ferocity and instinct for survival, they will not permit ANYONE to endanger their young.
Mad science is FULL of unintended consequences. The nanites that destroy sock odors are making their way into the environment, doing their micro-bot damage to whatever wildlife they come in contact with. Genetically modified food is a primary suspect in the death of butterflies, honey bees and in Morgellon’s disease.
Animal/human hybrid chimeras are one more example of reckless, insane science that pushes its way forward despite ALL concerns that are unique to HUMANITY, despite the issues of eugenics that so destroyed Europe through Hitler, and created a world war, despite all the lessons humanity has ‘learned.’ They say the great minds stood on the shoulders of those who came before. That learning includes learning from our history, our philosophy, or experience.
We are throwing away critical information in the interests of … what?
Can we afford these unintended consequences? If someone were to make a ‘eugenic’ type of decision for you or your family- would you or your family member survive that? What if your DNA makeup shows a tendency to downs syndrome, to cancer, to autism? Would eugenicists permit your DNA line to continue?
If your family were infected by an animal disease for which there were no cure, because of this science, would you think it was worth it?
How many people need to die before we decide the price is too high?
Designer babies: Creating the perfect child
LONDON, England (CNN) — October 30, 2008
Bring your partner, grab a seat, pick up your baby catalog and start choosing.
Would you be comfortable selecting what cosmetic features you want your baby to have?
Will you go for the brown hair or blond? Would you prefer tall or short? Funny or clever? Girl or boy? And do you want them to be a muscle-bound sports hero? Or a slender and intelligent book worm?
When you're done selecting, head to the counter and it's time to start creating your new child.
Does this sound like a scary thought?
With rapid advances in scientific knowledge of the human genome and our increasing ability to modify and change genes, this scenario of "designing" your baby could well be possible in the near future.
Techniques of genetic screening are already being used -- whereby embryos can be selected by sex and checked for certain disease-bearing genes. This can lead to either the termination of a pregnancy, or if analyzed at a pre-implantation stage when using In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), can enable the pregnancy to be created using only non-disease bearing genes.
British scientists last week developed a "genetic MoT" test, which offers a universal method of screening embryos for diseases using a new technique of karyomapping, which is more efficient than previous processes.
The test would be taken on a two-day-old IVF embryo and is yet to be validated, but it could mark a significant change; allowing doctors to screen for gene combinations that create higher risks of diabetes, heart disease or cancer.
Experts estimate the test, if licensed by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, could be available for around $3000.
In the future we may also be able to "cure" genetic diseases in embryos by replacing faulty sections of DNA with healthy DNA, in a process called germ line therapy. This has been performed on animal embryos but is currently illegal for humans.
Furthermore, the developing technologies of genetic alteration open up a whole new set of possibilities -- which could result in so-called "designer babies."
The technique -- known as inheritable genetic modification -- modifies genes in eggs, sperm or early embryos and results in the altered genes being passed on to future generations. Should parents be allowed to create their babies?
This could potentially irreversibly alter the human species. So, the obvious question arises: should we be doing this?
Some countries have made genetic screening or alteration illegal by law, and the ethical questions surrounding the uses of the technology are vast -- creating a palpable tension over the subject.
In September, Internet giants Google and Microsoft withdrew adverts for sex selection products and other services considered illegal in India when they were threatened with legal action.
The Center for Genetics and Society is trying to encourage debate on the topic -- as soon as possible.
Executive director of the organization, Richard Hayes, told CNN that the general public of most countries was missing out on taking part in the debate.
"The debate has taken place amongst scientists and science journalists, but average people feel overwhelmed with the technical detail. They feel disempowered."
Hayes said his organization supported the use of embryo screening to help prevent the passing on of serious diseases and disorders like Cystic Fibrosis, but is wary of other technologies and how genetic screening and alteration can be misused.
"We support the use of that to allow couples at risk to have healthy children. But for non-medical, cosmetic purposes, we believe this would undermine humanity and create a techno-eugenic rat race," Hayes said.
He said there were immense amounts of resources being poured into developing gene altering techniques and no laws in many countries to stop them from starting clinics that could offer selected cosmetic traits.
"As technology advances it is possible that any number of human characteristics in part influenced by genes could come under human control. Right now there is an enormous amount of research being conducted to correlate specific genes with specific characteristics."
One of the organizations researching genetic alteration is the University of California Irvine's Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center.
Professor of biological chemistry and developmental and cell biology, and co-director of the Center, Peter Donovan, feels the research could have massive benefits.
After his team discovered a greatly improved method for genetically manipulating human embryonic stem cells earlier this year, Donovan said:
"The ability to generate large quantities of cells with altered genes opens the door to new research into many devastating disorders.
"Not only will it allow us to study diseases more in-depth, it also could be a key step in the successful development of future stem cell therapies," Donovan
But according to Hayes the potential for misuse of this technology could have dire consequences for the human race.
"This runs many risks. It's used in many countries to avoid the birth of female children.
"The technologies are going to be accessible to affluent couples and would be used in ways that could increase inequality. The last thing we need now is a genetic elite.
"This designing aspect would also lead to an objectification of children as commodities."
Hayes said it was important that people began debating the issues now so the correct "rules, regulations and regulatory oversights" could be established before the technology was complete and accessible.