Saturday, May 03, 2008

Humanzees?


Published Date: 29 April 2008
By JENNY HAWORTH

A LEADING scientist has warned a new species of "humanzee," created from breeding apes with humans, could become a reality unless the government acts to stop scientists experimenting.
In an interview with The Scotsman, Dr Calum MacKellar, director of research at the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, warned the controversial draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill did not prevent human sperm being inseminated into animals.

He said if a female chimpanzee was inseminated with human sperm the two species would be closely enough related that a hybrid could be born.

He said scientists could possibly try to develop the new species to fill the demand for organ donors.

Leading scientists say there is no reason why the two species could not breed, although they question why anyone would want to try such a technique.

Other hybrid species already created include crossed tigers and lions and sheep and goats.

Dr MacKellar said he feared the consequences if scientists made a concerted effort to cross humans with chimpanzees. He said: "Nobody knows what they would get if they tried hard enough. The insemination of animals with human sperm should be prohibited.

"The Human Fertilisation and Embryo Bill prohibits the placement of animal sperm into a woman The reverse is not prohibited. It's not even mentioned. This should not be the case."

He said if the process was not banned, scientists would be "very likely" to try it, and it would be likely humans and chimps could successfully reproduce.

"If you put human sperm into a frog it would probably create an embryo, but it probably wouldn't go very far," he said.

"But if you do it with a non-human primate it's not beyond the realms of possibility that it could be born alive."

Dr MacKellar said the resulting creature could raise ethical dilemmas, such as whether it would be treated as human or animal, and what rights it would have.

"If it was never able to be self-aware or self-conscious it would probably be considered an animal," he said. "However, if there was a possibility of humanzees developing a conscience, you have a far more difficult dilemma on your hands."

He said fascination would be enough of a motive for scientists to try crossing the two species.

But he also said there was a small chance of scientists using the method to "humanise" organs for transplant into humans. "There's a desperate need for organs. One of the solutions that has been looked at is using animal organs, but because there's a very serious risk of rejection using animal organs in humans they are already trying to humanise these organs.

"If they could create these humanzees who are substantially human but are not considered as humans in law , we could have a large provision of organs."

He wrote to the Department of Health to ask that the gap in the draft legislation be addressed.

The department confirmed that the bill "does not cover the artificial insemination of an animal with human sperm".

It said: "Owing to the significant differences between human and animal genomes, they are incompatible and the development of a foetus or progeny is impossible.

"Therefore such activity would have no rational scientific justification, as there would be no measurable outcome."

Dr MacKellar disagrees. He said: "The chromosomal difference between a goat and a sheep is greater than between humans and chimpanzees."

Professor Bob Millar, director of the Medical Research Council Human Reproductive Sciences Unit, based in Edinburgh, agreed viable offspring would be possible. He said: "Donkeys can mate with horses and create infertile offspring; maybe that could happen with chimpanzees."

But he said he would oppose any such attempt. "It's unnecessary and ridiculous and no serious scientist would consider such a thing. Ethically, it's not appropriate.

"It's also completely impractical. Chimps would never be a source of organs for humans because of the viruses they carry and the low numbers."

Professor Hugh McLachlan, professor of applied philosophy at Glasgow Caledonian University's School of Law and Applied Sciences, said although the idea was "troublesome", he could see no ethical objections to the creation of humanzees.

"Any species came to be what it is now because of all sorts of interaction in the past," he said.

"If it turns out in the future there was fertilisation between a human animal and a non-human animal, it's an idea that is troublesome, but in terms of what particular ethical principle is breached it's not clear to me.

"I share their squeamishness and unease, but I'm not sure that unease can be expressed in terms of an ethical principle."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "It's just not a problem. If you inseminate an animal with human sperm, scientifically nothing happens. The species barriers are too great."

@ The Scotsman

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

OK so this is stretching the boundaries of sanity and edging into insanity, weird stuff is going on and the story here is one of the weirdest.

Judge for yourselves the benefits of toying with nature in such a bizzare manner.

Volunteers?

.

9 comments:

DEN said...

Well after reading that you might need a drink(good belt) to bring it into focus, so Booze in the corner and popcorn and peanuts on the side with bananas for our (P)resident chimp.

DEN said...

Time to vacuum out the AC box, summer is getting here fast this year.

Spike ran off with the condiments again so I put away the booze too.

*Coffee brewing*

Ahhh! Saturday.

micki said...

ASK DR. UNIVERSE -- FROM WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY

From the answer: ...Oliver, the chimpanzee who lives at a place in Texas called Primarily Primates. Oliver walks upright and likes to sip beer and watch television. For these and other reasons, some people thought for a while that Oliver might be a human-chimp combination.

But recently, scientists tested Oliver's chromosomes and found that he was indeed just a chimp. An unusual one perhaps, but a chimp. So even if chimps and humans cannot breed, Oliver has proved that chimps can develop just as bad habits as humans!


++++++++
Hmmmm....bush's Texas roots may run deeper than we thought!

David B. Benson said...

Micki --- Ha!

Jeanne said...

I watched a Nature once about the Chimpanzees that were caged their entire lives, experimented on for aids research. I think a group (can't remember) was able to get the chimps to place them in sanctuaries for primates. The ones raised from day one couldn't leave the area with concrete flooring without training. The old chimps couldn't touch grass and be outside. There was one very old chimp who they somehow figured out had been born in the wild. The last scene of the show was this chimp being let free in the sanctuary. They wondered if it would touch the grass or be willing to sit in it or run back inside. The chimp RAN outside and ran to a tree near the river and climbed to the highest limb. He just sat at the top of that tree and let the wind blow against him.

I could never accept any such experimentation. The aids research was so horrific. Why do we as humans have the right to raise other species for our own gain just because we can do it?

Now let me tell you this is coming from someone who is not exactly an animal lover. I just respect them.

David B. Benson said...

The last few years various Fish & Game officials have been mentioning (and complaining about) the marked decrease in the number of hunters.

Maybe this is going to reverse itself now?

DEN said...

Hunting game and squeezin the grease out to burn in a diesel pickup?

Rabbits are an option.

DEN said...

Rabbit squeezins downside.
how do you pick out the fuzz?

DEN said...

Beer thirty on my watch, better get busy.

Peace.