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Hybrid Human-Animal DNA Experiments Raise Concerns

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the wonder-what-al-gore-thinks-about-this dept.

Biotech 311

Kevin Fishburne writes "British scientists are calling for a new agency to oversee the mixing of human and animal DNA, which is progressing at a rate most may not be aware of: 'Among experimentation that might spark concern are those where human brain cells might change animal brains, those that could lead to the fertilization of human eggs in animals and any modifications of animals that might create attributes considered uniquely human, like facial features, skin or speech. ... Some disagree. "We think some of these should be done, but they should be done in an open way to maintain public confidence," said Robin Lovell-Badge, head of stem cell biology and developmental genetics at Britain's Medical Research Council, one of the expert group members. He said experiments injecting human brain cells into the brains of rats might help develop new stroke treatments or that growing human skin on mice could further understanding of skin cancer.'"

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311 comments

Welcome to the future, get your vaccine! (3, Funny)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | more than 2 years ago | (#36844892)


This type of research must be taken with very, very small steps. It has to be reviewed by the public and contained in case of dangerous DNA mixing. If there were no throttle on these experiments, the population would start to look like the inhabitants of Dr. Moreau's island.

Imagine: a scientist transfuses the DNA bits that allow a gecko to regrow its tail into an amputee. Will it re-grow the lost limb or will it revert to 'gecko mode' and grow a tail? Will the DNA infect the rest of the person's genome and transmute him into a hybrid with gecko-like qualities? No one knows because no one has dared to that type of experimenting until now.

Or someone transplants the genes from a cow into a human then that person is suddenly succeptible to Cow Pox, a disease related to Smallpox. Now the disease mutates into some new pox disease which spreads like wildfire in the general population. Oh wait, no worries; we have a VACCINE for that!

The earth's people have been silently and surrepticiously turned into a giant lab experiment courtesy of Big Pharma. They are poisoning the food supply with their chemicals and genetically modified "food". They are inventing diseases along side the vaccines which will prevent them, much like how Monsanto's Roundup Ready seeds are immune to the Roundup herbicide. They inject you with a small amount of poison to innoculate you against an even worst toxin they've created. All in the name of profit and most people just eat up the lies without a shred of critical thinking about it.

There are already Chiropractic Veterinarians [veterinary...practic.ca] , perhaps this is where the future of my specialty lay. I should invent a drop table for dealing with our four legged beasts' subluxations and patent it! (just joking, I'm not an inventor)

Note that my expertise is in the nervous system, its function and removing nerve system blockages not genetics. Though this stuff should be easy enough to envision, even if you aren't a molecular biologist.

Bob.

Re:Welcome to the future, get your vaccine! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36844922)

I think people should be free to alter themselves and their children with impunity. What I'm worried about is crossover of more disease from animals to people as a result of this work.

Re:Welcome to the future, get your vaccine! (2)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | more than 2 years ago | (#36844988)


Absolutely not. Our bodies were created with a purpose in mind. All this altering, be it tattoos, piercings, DNA modifications, etc, go against everything and our purpose of being.

We need to dump Big Pharma, get fresh air, eat vegan, exercise, get regular spinal adjustments, dump excessive TV, etc.

I'd love nothing more than to have my practice do nothing but maintenance adjustments. Unfortunately the population is so unhealthy that nerve issues are rampant, virtually 100% of the population has at least a phase 2 subluxation.

Live naturally, that's what God|Nature intended!

Bob.

Re:Welcome to the future, get your vaccine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845100)

Absolutely not. Our bodies were created with a purpose in mind. All this altering, be it tattoos, piercings, DNA modifications, etc, go against everything and our purpose of being

Uh, no. Our bodies evolved with the purpose of propagating genes. As some wise guy once said, a chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg.

Re:Welcome to the future, get your vaccine! (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845182)

If Slashdot had circles, I would add you to one called "fruitbat".

There are no indigenous vegetarians, let alone vegans.

If you're using your spine properly, you don't need any adjustments. Try Tai Chi.

Live naturally, that doesn't include chiropractic care! Enjoy your nasty, brutish, and short life. The last people to naturally live over a hundred years on a regular basis failed to develop their technology (this was the cost of their lifestyle) and were essentially wiped out.

Or put another way, if we were made, we were obviously made to wage war, among the other things. So by extension, all the funky food and TV watching is also natural.

In summary: I find your theories laughable, and I wish to pee on your newsletter

indigenous vegans (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845462)

"There are no indigenous vegetarians, let alone vegans."

We can not be sure there are no indigenous Vegans, the star is 26 light years away..

Re:Welcome to the future, get your vaccine! (0, Troll)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845904)

You've obviously never slipped a disk, or thrown out your back doing physical labor or due to an accident.

The first time you have an issue with your spinal alignment, you'll think of chiropractors in an entirely different way.

After a fall, I couldn't walk without a cane. 20 minutes after staggering into my chiropractors office I was still sore - but I could stand upright again and I didn't need the cane to walk.

Re:Welcome to the future, get your vaccine! (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845250)

Even if you want to take this biblically, you have the epitome of arrogance in assuming you have any inkling of the purpose, and forcing your views filtered by your observational organs and perceptions, upon others.

If you assume we were made by God, then it fits that God made us with one unique ability of all the creatures, what differentiates us more than anything else - the ability to drastically modify both ourselves and our environments, without having to wait for any kind of natural genetic shuffling. We do this with our uniquely useful combination of hands, eyes and brains. Under the assumption were we made different by God, and with this obvious difference, who but God could say we aren't to make use of it. You aren't God, nor is any other human.

Re:Welcome to the future, get your vaccine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36844968)

Blahblahblah

Show us some evidence or get lost.

Burn the ethics committee (1, Flamebait)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#36844948)

Burn all the ethics committee, they slow down research and they do not stop abuse; they only stop bad feelings into the weak minded politically correct, they also provide jobs for those wuss. I say burn them! Burn them with napalm, that will teach them!

Re:Burn the ethics committee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845212)

Indeed. Life is life. If there is a God with a masterplan than this is included and his responsibility. That should shut up the religious mamals.

How cool would it be if your dog could simply tell you he's hungry, or you could explain to your dog that he shouldn't destroy your furniture. Or you could show him around town and explain to him that he can go where he wants, but shouldn't mindlessly cross the street and that this is his home.

But nooooo... Giving humans the ability to think better and strip away greed from the dna pool, how dare they? Maybe they can inject some sence into these brainless protesters...

Re:Burn the ethics committee (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845526)

How cool would it be if your dog could simply tell you he's hungry [...]

If I know dogs a bit, they'd try to convince us all day long that they're hungry, or at least in the mood for a snack! Dogs are quite capable of telling us that they want food already. They definitely do not need speech for that.

Re:Burn the ethics committee (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845544)

How do you plan to do that with a human brain.

It actaully a lot easier to do what you want with a dogs brain.

How cool would it be if your dog could simply tell you he's hungry. When he sits right next to his bowl and stares right in it we know he is hungry

you could explain to your dog that he shouldn't destroy your furniture. "Bad Dog... NO"

Or you could show him around town and explain to him that he can go where he wants, but shouldn't mindlessly cross the street and that this is his home. If you let a dog do that he will normally be like such. Even crossing the street a dog can learn to do it cautiously

Getting people to do that is much harder. A dog can learn most of this stuff in their first year. For a human it can take 3-7 years for them to be able to handle that.

Re:Burn the ethics committee (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845804)

Analogy is there to validate the context, without which the point would be pointless. So while there is no proof by analogy, quite often, there would not be proof without it.

Re:Burn the ethics committee (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845288)

That's right! Burn! Burn! Burn! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL! That will teach those weak, limp-wristed politically correct weakos. KILL!!!

Re:Burn the ethics committee (1)

inasity_rules (1110095) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845436)

Then how do you propose we stop abuse? Is having no watchdogs better than having bad watchdogs? Before advocating the end of one system, perhaps you could at least provide an alternative?

Re:Burn the ethics committee (1)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845522)

But what is abuse ? can you define one in a meaningful way ?

Re:Burn the ethics committee (1)

inasity_rules (1110095) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845798)

That depends on your world view. But I would define it as generally as possible:

- Activity that could potentially lead to our end as a race.

- Activity that increases the suffering of individuals or groups without their consent.

- Activity designed to ultimately remove our freedoms/rights.

- Activity that would terminate individuals groups without their consent.

This is further complicated in context by the fact that at some point we may have caused animals to be intelligent and therefore ethically should we not afford them the same rights/freedoms as us? And prevent abuse on them too?

Re:Burn the ethics committee (1)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#36846008)

- Activity that could potentially lead to our end as a race. -> Everything we do in science has the potential to exterminate us. - Activity that increases the suffering of individuals or groups without their consent. -> I would agree with you with this one, but this is not the issue here, the modification are done on animals not humans. - Activity designed to ultimately remove our freedoms/rights. -> Again not relevant - Activity that would terminate individuals groups without their consent. -> same as before I am not saying there is no abuse, the point I am trying to make is that most objections that will come ( and proposed abuses) will be based on religious doctrines, and there where the problem lies.

Re:Burn the ethics committee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36846030)

Well, I can punch you on the back of the head while sodomizing you for the eleventh time this morning, does that count?

Re:Burn the ethics committee (1)

JonySuede (1908576) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845638)

Some risk analysis committee composed of emeritus engineers, scientist and doctors would be a better alternative and keep the soft sciences major out of there.

Re:Burn the ethics committee (1)

inasity_rules (1110095) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845844)

I agree, to a point. But don't you think society as a whole has a role? You may not agree with them, but your committee makes decisions that will affect them..

Re:Burn the ethics committee (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845516)

Ethics is an important part of Science. And should be considered whenever you do an experiment. But ethics are rarely if ever black and white. But something that needs to be weighed.
Do you jump to animal testing before you sit down and do the math and run simulations?
Do you do a psychological study without having an educated hypothesis what will happen? If it doesn't happen when should you terminate so you can re-evaluate?

I am not saying we should allow all the nuts go out and say this is evil because God says it is because we interpret this translation of this book to say that. But Science should strongly keep an ethic mindset before they jump to do something, and not let the excitement of discovery push you past the line.

You have a small group of religious nuts out there, if they can show that you toss ethics aside to do the work they will gather groups of people who are more moderate. Then you loose your funding, having to defend yourself, trouble getting new funding, etc....

Watchers? (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#36844960)

Pretty soon we're going to have Golden Retrievers with human-level intelligence running around being chased by vicious kill beasts. Who would have thought Dean Koontz could be so prophetic?

Re:Watchers? (1)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845062)

I suggest you read The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells. Much better, and much older.

Re:Watchers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845294)

If these experiments get me a catgirl Fairuza Balk [imdb.com] , I can only say I'm okay with it.

Re:Watchers? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845800)

If these experiments get me a catgirl Fairuza Balk, I can only say I'm okay with it.

If she can lick herself, what does she need you for?

Re:Watchers? (3, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845314)

Yes, let's scare more people with a bunch of fictional nonsense intended to play on people's fears and fool them into believing that fear response is the same as morality.

H.G. Wells was a great author, but that does not qualify him to be a credible source of perspective on the ethics of genetic research, especially when his implicit goal was to be salacious enough to sell books, not to have the most honest and balanced possible view.

Re:Watchers? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845266)

I'm fairly sure that most of the work being done on closing the Golden retriever/human intelligence gap is being done quite voluntarily on the human side...

Re:Watchers? (1)

jamiesan (715069) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845600)

Theres a gap? I know alot of people that aren't as smart as a Golden Retriever. And Golden Retrievers are more fun to play fetch with... if you don't mind the slobber on the ball.

Re:Watchers? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845892)

I seriously doubt that unless you work in a brain trauma ward. Even the smartest dogs are dumber than some of the dumbest children by nearly any human metric.

PSA: Make Tomorrow Better Today. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36844984)

Spay Your Cat Girl.

Ref:http://www.warehouse23.com/item.html?id=SP3001

At least it is safe! (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 2 years ago | (#36844996)

Safe way to the end of humanity as we know it. Was not worth too much anyway, so we are excited to look forward to a new category of first class world leadership.

CC.

They reached this conclusion (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845014)

Among experimentation that might spark concern are those where human brain cells might change animal brains, those that could lead to the fertilization of human eggs in animals and any modifications of animals that might create attributes considered uniquely human, like facial features, skin or speech.

They reached this conclusion after much consideration, i.e. watching a preview of Rise of the Planet of the Apes: In the Beginning [wikipedia.org]

Dr. Moreau files a patent infringement suit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845028)

tsia

this wouldn't have anything to do with.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845044)

the rise of the planet of the apes coming out in theaters soon?

Deep Blue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845068)

Oh nooos, somebody get LL Cool J quick!

Look on the Bright side (1)

phrackwulf (589741) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845088)

Anything that leads to giant hybrid super-soldiers who have poignant and heartbreaking back stories while providing insightful and challenging commentary on contemporary social and transgenic issues with cute girls is A-OK by me.

www.hip-flask.com

No one expects the Elephantman Inquisition!

Re:Look on the Bright side (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845848)

I think the drain on the supply of cute girls is already excessive, so adding giant hybrid super-soldiers who have poignant and heartbreaking back stories to the gene pool would only serve to further dilute my chances. No thanks!

FFS (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845110)

Do we have to include the ghastly emotive rot among the potentially legitimate concerns?

Zoonotic diseases are certainly a real issue(though we've caught plenty just through good, old-fashioned, living in close proximity), and any techniques that would hypothetically involve the production of excessively human central nervous systems in laboratory animals might get ethically dodgy; but are "skin" and "facial features" really 'uniquely human' attributes that squick us out so much we just can't stand it? The idea that having a cartilage-and-soft-tissue structure that looks kind of human, rather than having a differently shaped one, is somehow an 'ethical' problem, rather than pure squeamishness, is just emotive rot.

"The effect of custom, in preventing any misgiving respecting the rules of conduct which mankind impose on one another, is all the more complete because the subject is one on which it is not generally considered necessary that reasons should be given, either by one person to others, or by each to himself. People are accustomed to believe, and have been encouraged in the belief by some who aspire to the character of philosophers, that their feelings, on subjects of this nature, are better than reasons, and render reasons unnecessary." -J.S. Mill

Re:FFS (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#36846050)

any techniques that would hypothetically involve the production of excessively human central nervous systems in laboratory animals might get ethically dodgy; but are "skin" and "facial features" really 'uniquely human' attributes that squick us out so much we just can't stand it? The idea that having a cartilage-and-soft-tissue structure that looks kind of human, rather than having a differently shaped one, is somehow an 'ethical' problem, rather than pure squeamishness, is just emotive rot.

What about a Lucy Lu clone body, but with a dog/chimp hybrid brain tweaked to find basement dwellers attractive? Is it a pet or a slave?

Furries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845118)

Finally, I can stop wearing a faux Fox tail!

-Posted by a Furry

Uniquely Human. (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845148)

...any modifications of animals that might create attributes considered uniquely human, like facial features, skin or speech.

Wait...what?

And so what? (2)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845150)

So we mix some code together and it's what? Not what nature intended? Who give a rat's patoot? Are we playing [insert favorite diety here]? Again, so what?

I'm just having some trouble with the ethical implications. WHAT ethical implications? How is a hybrid any more good or evil than a naturally occurring organism? Help me out here guys, and no offense, but if you can't make an argument without reference to diefic entity nonsense, I'm not interested (unless of course, it's really, really funny).

Re:And so what? (3, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845350)

The problem is that species have evolved with what they have over time, so that problematic and crippling mutations are rapidly selected out.

If you start creating hybrids, you create traits for which a species has not evolved, and as such those traits may have massively debilitating effects on the creature.

Effectively, when we've long learnt that sometimes the best thing to do for an animal that is suffering, is to put it down, because it's more ethical than letting it suffer, then is it not ethically wrong to create creatures that will suffer with the intention of keeping them alive for experiments?

Would it be fair to manipulate a human embryo to make it grow up with skin cancer all over it's body to examine skin cancer? is it fair to do it to an animal?

I'll admit I side with the activists here, I think it is cruel and quite horrible, however, I'm also not sure that if we want to advance science that there's any alternative, and that leaves us at a disturbing crossroads- is the advancement of science worth ignoring ethical concerns? If it is in this case then where does it stop, where is the line drawn at which point it is not worth it? or do we carry on until we really do have mad scientists like in the movies!

Re:And so what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845378)

scientists do not have ethics.

Re:And so what? (3, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845632)

Do you know what has to happen before nature can 'rapidly select out' bad mutations? They have to exist first. We are a part of nature, produced by natural processes, and I would argue that making mutated things with a purpose is better than other natural mutations that are mere accidents of reproduction. "Bad" mutations are going to happen anyway, they might as well at least be useful.

All of this requires perspective. Tests done on animals that were both fatal and brutal have in the end saved millions of lives. I would gladly personally torture an animal or a dozen to death if it would save a million human lives, and that is a natural instinct. It's what's put us where we are in the first place. Animals that are vicious tend to survive better in a universe that doesn't care.

Sub-creation (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845360)

Are we playing [insert favorite diety here]? Again, so what?

Agreed. Man was created in God's image according to some major religions. As I understand it, and as J.R.R. Tolkien understood it, this includes the capacity to create, and sub-creation of works that echo God's creation is one way that mortals honor God.

Re:And so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845496)

I love people who bash other people's intelligence+educatedness while repeatedly make the same elementary spelling mistake. Don't you?

The ethical concern would be Planet of the Apes.

Re:And so what? (2)

smolloy (1250188) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845590)

One issue could be the question of the rights of the hybrid. For example, humans have many rights that cows don't, but what about a cow with a human central nervous system?

Or other primates with bits and pieces of human "code" in their brains? If we say that this animal isn't human, and therefore only deserving of the rights normally given to other primates even though it shows clear signs of human intelligence, wouldn't that somehow be wrong? But on the other hand, should they have full human rights, a seat at the UN, etc.?

Stretching things a little, wouldn't it be possible to create a slave-class of creature, with many of the abilities of humans but none of the rights?

There would seem to be a lot of room for a lot of pain to be caused if we don't get this right.

Re:And so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36846006)

I vaguely remember an old sci-fi story about the stereotypical ruthless biotech company 'manufacturing' (and selling) 'uplifted' animals - IIRC dogs with enhanced brains, opposable thumbs, and the ability to speak. At first they were not so successful - i.e. the 'product' did not work so great, then all of a sudden they had a terrific breakthrough and came out with a super-dog that was almost human... Too bad that, at closer scrutiny, the 'uplifted' dog turned out to be a 'downlifted' human. Basically the company had found a way to bypass laws against human cloning and mass-manufacture slaves.

Were do you draw the line?

(Of course you can as well go all the way down economic reductionism, and assume that human beings have no fundamental rights, only economic value. I actually see this more and more as a trend.)

Re:And so what? (2)

inasity_rules (1110095) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845654)

Someone else points out this could increase the spread of disease from animals to humans for a start. Additionally how ethical is it to create something potentially intelligent, and then have it suffer in a lab all its life?

These things are not black and white. Even within religious circles. What we (regardless of belief system) need to start looking at is what consequences do our actions have. If you choose to call it "bad", "evil", "increasing suffering" or even "threatening our continued survival as a species" that is up to you. But playing around in this area has very real and very serious ethical issues. And if you can't see these obvious things without having them spelled out, I really wonder if you understand ethics at all?

Wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845178)

Wait a second.... "concerns"? We want to stop researchers from doing those things?

My first thought was "AWESOME! We're already doing this stuff and no one knew about it? Let's do more!"

Easy way to control this (3, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845186)

Pass laws that any creature with human DNA is human and has the same rights as any other human. Have the law make those who create such creatures be financially responsible for them until such time as they can be demonstrated to be able to care for themselves.

Re:Easy way to control this (4, Informative)

cnettel (836611) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845298)

And suddenly you have a whole different bag of problems. Even just sequencing genomes have frequently been done by putting huge parts of human DNA into yeast or other hosts as a method for amplification and storage. Are the yeast cells human? No. Is a mouse with a single human gene (maybe a disease allele) human? No, and your suggestion would seriously hamper research. Is a bacterium with a human or rather human-derived insulin gene human? No.

On the other hand, is there a problem if one would create e.g. the equivalent of a geep (a sheep-goat chimera, really two distinctive cell lines constituting different parts of the same body) from chimp and human lines? I would definitely think so. The tipping point is not too clear, and that's really the problem here. "Any creature with human DNA" is far too broad, so what criterion should we use.

Re:Easy way to control this (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845356)

Vats are promising, but it is probably a little shortsighted to ban extracting things like hearts from modified pigs.

Re:Easy way to control this (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845418)

I'm afraid that I have some bad news for you: Even non-biologists might end up making some pretty massive child-support payments(and having to put up with some fairly nasty organisms) [nature.com] .

While horizontal gene transfer, in nature, doesn't seem to be as common in large eukaryotes as it is in bacteria, there are trillions and trillions of viruses out there, and sometimes they are sloppy. You definitely contain nontrivial amounts of their DNA, some of them might have acquired a few little bits of you...

Re:Easy way to control this (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845428)

So I can create an army of slugs with voting rights just by mixing in some human DNA? If I use dogs instead can we count in "dog years" for reaching voting age?

Re:Easy way to control this (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845870)

If your human child can't communicate at all, he can't vote. Same for your army of slug children.

So let's create an army of dog-children. Unfortunately, what if they don't vote as you tell them to. That, and if your opponent releases a squirrel at the voting precinct, would foil your evil plans.

Re:Easy way to control this (2)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845454)

It's that easy, is it?

Giving human rights to constructs that have some human DNA would needlessly complicate a whole slew of matters. It also doesn't resolve things as clearly as you think it might: e.g. comatose or terminal humans certainly have human DNA, yet there is lively debate about how far their rights extend and whether we should keep them alive at all costs or let them die. Unborn embryo and fetuses have human DNA; and again society hasn't decided how many human rights they ought to have. A severed human limb, or surgically removed organ have fully human DNA yet clearly don't have human rights. Why should a non-sentient mass of tissue with some (or all) human DNA have human rights? Primates already have significant genetic overlap with humans, and substantial intelligence. Should they be accorded full human rights? Trying to treat constructs/tissue/animals as human doesn't make things clear at all. It raises more questions than it answers.

Besides, your maximalist solution amounts to saying that we shouldn't do these things: if every creature with partial human DNA is considered a full human, then it would be presumptively unethical to create such creatures for the purposes of research or tissue harvesting (even if they are, e.g. no more thinking and feeling than the cattle we happily slaughter today). You've circumvented the debate and gone straight for the "we shouldn't be doing this" conclusion. If that's really the conclusion we want, then an outright legal ban would be simpler and clearer.

But really, we should probably pursue these technologies in an ethical way. This will require some deep thought about ethics. We will need to decide more clearly what gives people their rights. Is it just human lineage? Is it our unique mental capacities? Our sentience? Our ability to feel pain? Our ability to communicate? A combination of all of these? I believe there are ways to pursue these research topics ethically; and we need to figure out how. But I don't think simplistic blanket rules will get us very far.

Re:Easy way to control this (1)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845508)

For better or worse, research will simply take place in whatever jurisdiction doesn't pass those laws.

The dotted line we draw around humanity is, ultimately, an arbitrary choice. There was a time not long ago where the definition of "person" excluded whole races and whole genders. And even though we have a person good grasp of how far to extend the shield of our empathy and citizenship, there are still people pushing the boundary further (animal welfare, the great ape project, etc).

Chimeras and genetically altered organisms, by their existance, reopen the entire debate over personhood. That means not only a discussion about whether these new creations have human rights, but possibly revisiting past decisions over whether all rights really need to apply to all people.

Re:Easy way to control this (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845872)

Pass laws that any creature with human DNA is human and has the same rights as any other human. Have the law make those who create such creatures be financially responsible for them until such time as they can be demonstrated to be able to care for themselves.

This would never pass as we can't even get people to treat those that have 100% human DNA as human (see abortion issue).

Re:Easy way to control this (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845886)

Next thing you're gonna suggest is some kind of "Mutant Registration Act" then perhaps funding for a "Sentinal" program to oversee that none of these "mutants" get out of hand.

Re:Easy way to control this (1)

adamchou (993073) | more than 2 years ago | (#36846000)

GREAT IDEA! It will be so much easier to get on welfare breeding man-dogs than making actual humans. I'm going to become a welfare millionaire.

Re:Easy way to control this (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36846012)

Pass laws that any creature with human DNA is human and has the same rights as any other human.

So mice with, say, humanized breast tissue used as tumor models have the same rights as humans?

Yeah, makes perfect sense.

The nerds can't get laid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845218)

So they are trying to make their dogs, or goats a little more sexy.

Mog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845226)

All I know, is if they make a Mog (man dog hybrid) they'd better name him Barf!

As long as (4, Funny)

boristdog (133725) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845234)

As long as I can get a cat that will tell me exactly what it wants instead of me having to figure it out, I'm good.

Then they can apply that gene to women.

Re:As long as (3, Insightful)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845306)

As long as I can get a cat that will tell me exactly what it wants instead of me having to figure it out, I'm good.

Then they can apply that gene to women.

That's easy. But there's one fatal flaw to this idea. In order to give women the ability to just tell people what they want, you have to insert a Y chromosome. Trouble is, that turns them into a man.

What cats want. (3, Funny)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845690)

It's fairly obvious what cats want. They want their servants to understand their needs and fulfill their wishes before they have realised what they want, themselves. If you're not doing this, the fault is yours, not theirs. Maybe you're mixed up about who is in charge in that relationship?

Misleading title? (1)

Cant use a slash wtf (1973166) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845274)

From the title I was kind of expecting that they were, like, splicing human and animal genes to create human-goats or something. I was rather disappointed.
Oh well, at least it was one step closer to bringing the end of humanity as we know it. I'm almost looking forward to the point where we start having philosophical debates about whether goat-humans have the same rights as full humans. Of course we would then have to have the far right groups claiming that the pure human race is superior; and the far left groups promoting acceptance of these human hybrid things.
I'm really hoping they get their act together and do this within my lifetime. It would be quite a show.

Re:Misleading title? (1)

plover (150551) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845456)

Why is it on Slashdot that every time someone mentions cross-species genetic experiments, the example that many people choose is human-goat?

I wonder what Freud would have to say about that. :-)

OH NOES! Chastity Spice was RIGHT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845400)

Apparently she used her witch powers to see into the FUTURE [talkingpointsmemo.com] !!!!

Tea-Party hybrid (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845406)

I heard scientists are even trying to put a human brain inside a member of the tea-party.

I need ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845410)

... a prehensile tail. To hold my soldering iron while I'm trying to tack down some of these blasted 0.5 mm pitch SMDs.

Re:I need ... (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845896)

Wouldn't forehead tentacles give you better control and visibility?

What? They said sticking human DNA in animals! They never said anything about sticking octopus DNA in your forehead!

Publicity Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845424)

What a coincidence! Right on time for the new "Apes Will Rise" planet-of-the-apes movie.

Stop playing with imaginary friends... (0)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845460)

As children, we're scared of the boogeyman. I would think that as adults, we would stop being afraid of imaginary beings. Then again, people still talk about defeating Satan every Sunday. For me, the only thing bread and wine beats is a bad Caesar salad.

But, go ahead, pass your laws. We don't want any Satyrs running around. We might worship freaks, and that's idolatry.

Then again, if you know diddly squat about how DNA actually works, there is no realistic worry about actually creating a human animal hybrid beyond move a gene here or there between very genetically close species. The fact that we even worry I think shows species egotism. Like we're going to become hideous mole people or something.

This is the same line of thinking that leads to outlawing cloning, which ironically, happens every time twins are born.

Re:Stop playing with imaginary friends... (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845726)

"This is the same line of thinking that leads to outlawing cloning, which ironically, happens every time twins are born."

The problem is when humans do the cloning, the clone has very short lifespan.

Grasp beyond grasp! (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845486)

The article, when taken in a general scope, appears to be "Stop making [humans] less unique!" and "Animals might be able to communicate. THE HORROR!!". And this article happens to be timed as Planet of the Apes advertisements are playing.

Can we stop trying to have policies and laws passed based on Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Fiction movies? What next, a UN declaration declaring Smurfs a protected indigenous people and rings (especially green ones) fire arms?

What worries me most about all this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845568)

It isn't so much what's going on in public, but what will happen in private. There have been attempts in the past by, let's call them "less-social regimes," to breed animal hybrid soldiers and whatnot. What happens to the world when a crazy dictator get his hands on some genetics technology and a few willing scientists. What happens when monsters are real? I don't think it's unrealistic to think it's going to eventually be a problem.

Language! (2)

domulys (1431537) | more than 2 years ago | (#36845746)

From the last line of the article: "it’s a human thing to have a memory.”

Memory is not the real issue ... the real issue is language. Yes, dolphins, whales, birds, etc. can communicate, but not with an infinitely rich grammar. Many anthropologists (and, not surprisingly, linguists) believe that language is key to understanding the uniqueness of the human mind. To me, that's what makes brain cell implantation freaky.

Surely one cell is not too controversial. Two... maybe a little. But once you start down this path, think about where it could go:

Day 137: Rats seem to react to their names.
Day 409: Rats react to basic commands ("Go left" or "Go right")
Day 687: Rats are able to respond to simple yes/no questions ("Are you hungry?")
Day 992: Rat named Stickers cheeps one word: "Stop."

I'm not passing any judgement on this research ... just sayin' that we're entering some uncharted waters.

Hip Flask (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36845876)

Here's proof that human-animal hybrids would be really cool: http://hipflask.com/ [hipflask.com]

Re:Hip Flask (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36846058)

As someone who works with a suspected human/animal hybrid, I think it's fair to say that not all hybrid attempts could be considered 'desirable'

Cool - I always wanted fur (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 2 years ago | (#36846026)

I was thinking a nice thick coat like a leopard or a tiger. With fluffy ankles. Just no rasp like tongue - I can brush it.. It would be nice to be a big kitty cat.
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