British Government Backs New Bill for Human-Animal Cloning Hybrids

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 9, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Government Backs New Bill for Human-Animal Cloning Hybrids Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 9,

London, England ( — The British government has caved in to pressure from scientists there and announced it is backing a revised bill in parliament for human-animal hybrids, or chimeras. The creation of part-human, part-animal embryos has pro-life advocates upset as they say it’s another step in the devaluation of human life.

In what political observers see as a dramatic reversal, Health Minister Dawn Primarolo promised to allow the creation of the chimeras for research. Scientists claim the studies could lead to new treatments for diseases.

Primarolo will back a bill in the British parliament that will allow scientists to create the hybrids and kill them after 14 days.

The bill also allows the creation of so-called "savior siblings" for serious illnesses and not just life-threatening ones. In addition to taking embryonic stem cells from the human being, the bill would allow scientists to harvest organs and take "other types of tissue and cells."

The announcement that the government would support the Human Tissue and Embryo Bill is a turnabout from its stance last year saying it wanted a ban on all human-animal hybrids.

The government shifted its position further in May when it decided to allow some hybrids but not others. Now the bill allows them all, instead of just ones with 99 percent human and less than one percent animal cells.

Under the new bill, scientists can create true human-animal hybrids by mixing animal and human sperm and eggs, mostly human hybrids, or mostly animal hybrids.

Josephine Quintavalle, the head of the pro-life group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, told the London Daily Mail newspaper, "It’s disturbing that the Government wants to put into law the fact that researchers can create true hybrids."

"This is crossing a barrier that should not be crossed. It is against the dignity of humans and animals," she added.