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When the sheep “Dolly” was cloned, scientists rushed to assure everyone that no one would ever clone a human being.
We’ve since learned that if scientists can do it, then all they need to come up with is a rationale.
Making human-animal embryos for scientific experiments should be allowed because of the benefits to science and medicine, British experts said in a report released for Sunday.
The combinations would include animal eggs and the nucleus, containing the genetic material, of a human being, or human embryos that carry the genetic material of an animal, the independent advisory body said.
A cloning technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer, or SCNT for short, involves removing the nucleus from an egg cell and replacing it with the nucleus of a cell from the animal to be cloned — perhaps a skin cell, for instance.
Scientists have tried this using, for example, an egg cell from a cow and a human nucleus.
There are no laws against it in either Britain or the United states and the independent Academy said it should remain legal.
“Provided good laboratory practice is rigorously followed, research involving cytoplasmic hybrids or other inter-species embryos offers no significant safety risks over and above regular cell culture research,” said Martin Bobrow of Britain’s Wellcome Trust, who chaired the panel making the recommendations.
“We found no current scientific reasons to generate ‘true’ hybrid embryos by mixing human and animal gametes (eggs and sperm). However, given the speed of this field of research, the working group could not rule out the emergence of scientifically valid reasons in the future,” Bobrow said.
Give ’em some time. They’ll come up with something.
Such embryos should never, however, be implanted into either a woman or an animal, said the Academy of Medical Sciences.
Why not? Why should these embryos be tossed out? If you’re willing to clone human beings in order to harvest their stem cells, why be so squeamish about human-animal hybrids? Those are the questions they’ll ask, and pretty soon those questions will seem reasonable.
And then what’s next? I shudder to think.