Science fiction becomes science fact
It sounds like science fiction. The British Government has
expressed resistance to the idea of creating
“Human-Hybrid” embryos, reportedly, for use in
stem cell research. A
Although human stem cell research may lead to cures for
diseases and conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s to
Parkinson’s to paralysis, the process of hybridization
should be seen by everyone as dangerous and ethically
H.G. Wells first broached the subject of
“transgenics” in the novel “The Island of
Doctor Moreau,” where human and animal were combined
through surgical methods, but Wells could never have foreseen
such possibilities as they present themselves today. Already,
scientists have bred mice whose neurons are one percent
human, and these same scientists hope to breed mice with 100
percent human brains.
Science fiction has often been the playground for what eventually became science fact. Writers in the late nineteenth century fantasized about men walking on the moon or traveling to distant planets. Aldous Huxley, in “A Brave New World,” imagined a world where mankind was able to produce children through in vitro fertilization, socialites traveled to reservations as tourists, and the drug Soma was used to manage depression. Other authors predicted weapons that could obliterate entire cities, reducing them to ash and rubble.
The current hybridization procedure involves implanting
human DNA into a cow or rabbit egg, and allowing the egg to
proceed along its normal process of growth, eventually
implanting itself into the uterine wall of the host
“mother,” becoming a fetus, and if allowed to,
coming to term and being birthed.
Shouldn’t this make one uneasy? Shouldn’t the
idea of creating transgenic hybrid spike some kind of concern
in our hearts?
Semantics aside, humanity has removed itself from the
natural processes of the animal world. We no longer consider
ourselves animals. We alter our environment rather than
creating a niche. For evidence of such sentiment, one needs
to look no farther than the FDA, which requires extensive
animal testing before any drug may be tested on humans. The
truth is, we have begun to play with the realms of nature,
and no good can come of it.
Perhaps the most alarming insight is that science is
considering transgenics for the same reason humanity
One must consider the next step; humans and chimpanzees, being the closest of all primate relatives, are separated by an alarmingly small number of genes and it is even hypothesized that chimpanzees and humans interbred as late as 5 million years ago, shortly after the separation of the species. Can you imagine a “humanzee?” In the novel “Next,” Michael Crichton can, and his name is Dave. Dave is the size of a small child, with skin too light, hair too thin, and a face too flat for a chimpanzee. Dave has a raspy voice, he is a fast learner, but has trouble with his verb tenses. Dave believes he is a human, but he knows he doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at school. Dave was the product in a hybridization experiment. Is there any reason that he should ever exist in reality?