By Selwyn Duke
When we hear about the implantation of human genes in animals, it may conjure up images right out of the story The Island of Dr. Moreau. Of course, present-day experiments of this kind take a more modest form, such as the Chinese’s introduction of human stem cells into goat fetuses or U.S. scientists’ proposal to create a mouse infused with human brain cells. Yet the possibility that H.G. Wells’ nightmare could one day be made reality is troubling some researchers, prompting them to ask for new regulations governing the humanization of animals. Writes Reuters:
Scientific experiments that insert human genes or cells into animals need new rules to ensure they are ethically acceptable and do not lead to the creation of "monsters," a group of leading British researchers [from Britain's Academy of Medical Sciences] said on Friday.... Extreme scenarios, such as putting brain cells into primates to create talking apes, may remain science fiction, but researchers around the world are constantly pushing boundaries.
The academy also conducted a poll showing that the general public shares their concerns. As Reuters reports, “There were serious concerns voiced [by the respondents] about experiments involving the brain, the potential fertilization of human eggs or sperm in an animal, and giving animals human characteristics such as facial features or speech.”
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