What is a Human-Animal Hybrid?
A human-animal hybrid is an organism with both human and animal genetic material - an organism that is part human and part animal.
Why do Some Want to Create Human-Animal Hybrids?
It is common practice for scientists to use animal models when researching human disease. Recent advances in genetic technologies have allow ed scientists to now create human-animal hybrid embryos. Some argue the product will provide more accurate "animal" models for researching human disease. This may be true, however, there is no evidence that research on human-animal hybrid embryos will lead to more viable human disease treatments. Every year we are discovering how little we actually know about how DNA works. It is only ethical for researchers to focus on getting a better, more complete understanding of basic study models before creating more complex and potentially dangerous models. Notably, the companies pursuing human-animal hybrids are the same companies that are pursuing human cloning, such as ACT and Geron which have histories of being ethically void.
Why do Human-Animal Hybrids Threaten Human Health?
Human-animal hybrids are a human health threat because they open the door to human contract ion of diseases previously limited to animals. Diseases like HlV/AIDS, Avian Flu and Mad Cow have already jumped the barrier from animals to humans without genetic hybridization. Combining human and animal DNA opens up a Pandora ' s Box of new disease possibilities for both humans and animals.
Creating new species that are part human and part animal also creates environmental threats by ignoring billions of years of natural evolution which could disrupt the Earth's natural balance. Should genetically modified human-animal hybrids be released into the environment, both accidentally or intentionally, they could have evolutionary advantages that lead them to out-compete native species and change ecosys tems in unforeseen ways.
It is becoming more common for stem cell researchers to inject human DNA into rabbit or mouse egg cells to create "nearly human" embryonic stem cells. If these forcibly viable hybrid embryos developed into a full grown human-rabbit or human-mouse, the entire definition of what it means to be human changes.
What is the Solution?
It is imperative that we institute a federal ban on human-animal hybrid creation in order to prevent research from being invested in this dangerous direction without public debate. Instead, we should focus on learning more about natural DNA science and developing federal safety and ethics guidelines to guide emerging technological research. Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) are introducing the Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act (S.2358 and not yet introduced in the House). The bill would prohibit the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos and animals with human reproductive organs or human brains.