Developmental biologist Stuart Newman is locked in a six-year
battle with the US Patent Office. He is requesting a patent
on the production of human-animal chimeras-in order to prevent
anyone from making such creatures. Mark Dowie tells the story
in "Gods and Monsters" in the current Mother Jones
(Jan/Feb 2004). Dowie points out that "taken to its most
extreme but not necessarily impossible end," chimera technology
could be used to create "altered primates with enough cognitive
ability to ride a bus, follow basic instructions, pick crops
in 119 degrees, or descend into a mine shaft without worrying
their silly little heads about inalienable human rights and
the resulting laws and customs that demand safe working conditions."
Such creatures, Dowie writes, would "threaten either to
erase taboos we still embrace, like bestiality, or reintroduce
practices we'd hopefully sloughed off, like slavery." http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2004/01/12_401.html
(partial article free; payment required for full article)
Is there any chance that the creation of part-human chimeras
would be permitted? Some bioethicists are unwilling to draw
a line that would prevent it. In "Crossing Species Boundaries,"
Jason Scott Robert and Francoise Baylis (American Journal
of Bioethics Online, Summer 2003) assert that they take
"no stance at all" on whether "interspecies hybrids
or chimeras from human materials should be forbidden or embraced."
But much of their article is devoted to their contention that
"the arguments against…creating novel part-human beings…are
largely unsatisfactory." This lead article is followed
by more than two dozen short commentaries from other bioethicists,
taking a variety of positions on the question.