NIH Proposes Funding Human-Animal Hybrids

By Anika Smith Published on August 4, 2016

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is proposing a new rule that would lift the ban on federally funding experiments on human stem cells that splice them with animal embryos to create human-animal hybrids.

The federal government put a moratorium on funding the creation of such hybrids, known as chimeras, back in September 2015. The proposed rule would lift that ban for two specific types of hybrid-creation research.

Christian journalist Rod Dreher points out that the head of NIH is (widely proclaimed) evangelical Francis Collins. Dreher’s take: “Christian-run agency embraces pig-man.”

“On his watch, the NIH is going to create living creatures that are part human, part animal,” Dreher says.

As The New York Times so gently put it, “The idea of human cells developing inside an animal embryo and forming, in effect, a human-animal chimera, has alarmed some people.”

Indeed.

Catholic priest and blogger Father Matthew Schneider notes that the NIH is currently soliciting feedback on the proposed rule. His view: “It’s beyond immoral not only to allow but fund human-animal hybrids.”

Bioethicist Wesley J. Smith says that our science sector does not uphold the intrinsic dignity of human life, and “we can’t trust our regulatory bodies — which can be more controlled by the sectors they are supposed to regulate than the other way around — to maintain strict boundaries.”

“Another problem is that society generally doesn’t seem to care much,” Smith said. “If you tell many people that biotechnology will cure their Uncle Charlie’s Parkinson’s disease, they won’t give much of a fig about the moral ramifications.”

According to Smith, we’re already on our way down this slippery slope.

I don’t think this work can be stopped. But identifying the lines that should not — and will not — be crossed is an urgent need so that legally enforceable standards can be delineated. I just don’t see anyone currently in power within the symbiotically connected science, government and big business sectors much interested in giving such work more than placating lip service at the moment.

The NIH is taking comments through September 4.

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