I cannot pretend to begin to understand the science of this, but I’m not sure how much technical background one needs to feel that there is probably something very creepy going on here.
Among other things, the proposed bill would allow researchers to “create inter-species hybrids by injecting human DNA into a hollowed-out animal egg cell. The resulting embryo is 99.9 percent human and 0.1 percent animal.” The point of creating such an embryo is to give scientists the large number of embryos they need to make stem cells to help find cures for a range of diseases.
Again, I’m no scientist, but the government’s defence of the bill doesn’t seem to jive with the description of what actually goes on in this kind of research, at least as it is described by Reuters. The British Health Minister, Ben Bradshaw, has defended the bill by saying that it concerns the use of “pre-embryonic cells to do research that has the potential to ease the suffering of millions of people in this country”.
In another Reuters article, a researcher defends the practice as follows: “The aim of our experiments is to discover ways to make stem cells for anyone that will be invaluable in treating human diseases, not to give birth to some abnormal chimera.” In other words, don’t worry, none of these embryonic “chimeras” (his word, not mine) will actually survive such experiments. How reassuring.
On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Cardinal in Scotland has denounced the bill as a “monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life”.
Gee, I wonder who’s right?
By the way, according to Reuters, Canada is one of three other countries (besides the UK) where scientists carry out “similar work”.