The US government have approved federal funding for research related to the creation of animal-human hybrids known as chimeras.
The National Institute of Health say the money will be used to create hybrid embryos in the hope of finding cures for existing diseases.
The federal government announced plans Thursday to lift a moratorium on funding of certain controversial experiments that use human stem cells to create animal embryos that are partly human.
One issue is that scientists might inadvertently create animals that have partly human brains, endowing them with some semblance of human consciousness or human thinking abilities. Another is that they could develop into animals with human sperm and eggs and breed, producing human embryos or fetuses inside animals or hybrid creatures.
The policy proposes prohibiting the introduction of certain types of human cells into embryos of nonhuman primates, such as monkeys and chimps, at even earlier stages of development than what was currently prohibited.
But the policy would lift the moratorium on funding experiments involving other species. Because of the ethical concerns, though, at least some of the experiments would go through an extra layer of review by a new, special committee of government officials.
Animals will also be created that are capable of producing human eggs and sperm in order to study human development and infertility.
This is what PETA’s Senior Vice President of Laboratory Investigations had to say on the matter:
Consciousness, thoughts, and emotions are not unique to the human animal. We share them with all other species. So if it is morally problematic to experiment on a chimera containing human cells, then it is wrong — and always has been — to experiment on the dogs, monkeys, and mice now used by the millions in laboratories. Scientists should not be supremacists. They can and must stop harming all animals.
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