British Govt. Allows Human-Animal Cloning After Lawmakers Lose Vote

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 17, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Govt. Allows Human-Animal Cloning After Lawmakers Lose Vote Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 17,

London, England ( — Just days after British lawmakers failed to pass an amendment to a bioethics bill to stop human-animal cloning there, the British government has given two groups of scientists the go-ahead. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has okayed the attempt to create cloned human embryos using cow eggs.

"The HFEA License Committee determined that the two applications satisfied all the requirements of the law," the agency said.

The reason for this approach is the dearth of human eggs available from donors to use in scientific experiments.

Scientists at King’s College London and the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne will now be able to inject human DNA into the cow eggs to create a hybrid that is 99 percent human and one percent animal.

Scientists want to experiment on the partially animal-like human embryo in order to develop cures for disease, but pro-life groups say there is no ethical reason for research to clone and kill people who are largely human.

The scientists must kill their cloned creations days after making them and they will not be used for reproductive purposes.

But, noted American bioethics watchdog Wesley J. Smith warns pro-life advocates to not be fooled by promises not to give birth to cloned hybrids.

"That isn’t technically feasible yet, and besides, this early work is intended to perfect human cloning techniques so that it can be done reliably and efficiently," he explains.

"But if that is ever done, we will be quickly on to the other brave new world agendas such as fetal farming, learning how to genetically engineer progeny, and indeed, reproductive cloning," he warns.

Smith, an author and attorney, warns that scientists have an "anything goes" mentality that prompts them to want to play God rather than engage in ethical ways of curing diseases.

"They don’t want to understand the meaning of no and they arrogantly don’t care what the people think," Smith said.

He’s hopeful the British scientists won’t be able to successfully clone the hybrids, but he worries they will eventually figure out how to do it.