New Bill Would Ban Using Human Cloning to Create Human-Animal Hybrids

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 13, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Bill Would Ban Using Human Cloning to Create Human-Animal Hybrids

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 13
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — Two members of the U.S. Senate who have been behind unsuccessful efforts to ban all forms of human cloning have introduced new legislation with a new approach. They want to ban the use of human cloning to make human-animal hybrids, the kind of research taking place currently in England.

Stephen Minger of King’s College London, who has received permission from the British government to engage in hybrid cloning there, has been pushing hybrids forward.

He is attempting to fuse DNA from cows with that of humans in order to create new stem cells that could be used in scientific research.

Sens. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, and Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, want to prohibit such research from taking place in the United States.

“This legislation works to ensure that our society recognizes the dignity and sacredness of human life,” Brownback told on Friday.

“Creating human-animal hybrids, which permanently alter the genetic makeup of an organism, will challenge the very definition of what it means to be human and is a violation of human dignity and a grave injustice," he explained.

The Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act would ban the creation of human-animal hybrids — defined as those part-human, part-animal creatures, which are created in laboratories, and blur the line between species.

The bill is modest in scope and only affects efforts to blur the genetic lines between animals and humans. It does not preclude the use of animals or humans in legitimate research or health care where genetic material is not passed on to future generations.

As such, the bill does not include, for example, the use of a porcine heart valve in a human patient or the use of a lab rat with human diseases to develop treatments.

“This legislation is both philosophical and practical as it has a direct bearing upon the very essence of what it means to be human, and it draws a bright line with respect to how far we can go in attempting to create new creatures made with genes from both humans and animals," Brownback added.

He explained that his bill is modeled on a bill Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal recently signed that would prohibit the creation of human-animal hybrids.

"That law is modeled after earlier versions of the legislation that we introduce today," he said.

In February, a new study found there is little efficacy of such research, which sounds more like a bad sci-fi movie.

Cloning backer Robert Lanza, a controversial lead scientist at the biotech firm Advanced Cell Technology, authored the study, which appears to give pro-life advocates more ammunition.

The study found eggs from animals are not a good source for creating the embryonic stem cells that some researchers want to use in experiments.

Wesley J. Smith, a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network and a well-known bioethics attorney and watchdog, has written on the problems of human-animal hybrids.

In 2008, members of the British House of Commons rejected an amendment 336 to 176 to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill that would have prevented the hybrid cloning.

Members of parliament also voted 286 to 223 to reject a second amendment that would have prohibited so-called "true hybrids" using the sex cells of a human and an animal.

The following senators have signed on as co-sponsors of the Brownback-Landrieu hybrid cloning ban:

Senators Jim Bunning (R-KY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Bob Corker (R-TN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jim DeMint (R-SC), John Ensign (R-NV), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), James Inhofe (R-OK), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Mel Martinez (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), James Risch (R-ID), John Thune (R-SD), David Vitter (R-LA), George Voinovich (R-OH), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

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