Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

The National Geographic has clued into the fact that biotechnologists are creating human/animal hybrids, known as chimeras. This is not news. Dolly the cloned sheep was created in the first place so that the Roslin Institute could genetically engineer sheep to have a human gene. Their purpose was laudable. They hoped to reap useful substances from the milk of genetically modified ewes to use in making human medicines, a process known as “pharming.”

But now, Irving Weissman of Stanford, is talking seriously about manufacturing a mouse with a human brain. Of course, he states that medical science will be advanced. The “anything goes” crowd in biotech always does. And he huffs and puffs that any legal moratorium on such activities would be to deny scientists their “freedom.”

But these issues are too important to just let the scientists decide what is moral and what isn’t. We are learning to change nature, including human biology, at the molecular level. The consequences from such research, both pro and con, will be profound. And since the scientists show no inclination to engage in any meaningful self- restraint, they force society to either set proper parameters or surrender control to them and hence create what could be called a scientocracy.

I do not reject inserting some human genes into animals to reap human-helping benefits. But we do have to figure out as a society how much human material in animals is too much human mateiral in animals. Unfortunately, it seems that the ideologues of biotechnology have no intention of giving us the space to have that discussion.

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles