Human-animal hybrids created in British laboratories


LONDON — More than 150 human-animal hybrid embryos have been created in the last three years in British laboratories, The Daily Mail reported July 25.

Pro-life advocates decried the news.

The newspaper reported 155 embryos that have genetic material from both human beings and animals have been created under a 2008 law passed by Parliament. The information was not revealed until a government minister provided it in response to a parliamentary question from David Alton, a crossbench member of the House of Lords in the British Parliament. Crossbench members are not identified with political parties.

The hybrid embryos, which were created in three British labs, came in at least three forms, according to The Daily Mail:

• An animal egg fertilized by human sperm;

• A "cybrid" formed when a human nucleus is implanted in an animal cell;

• A "chimera" created when human cells and animal embryos are combined.

Researchers who back the creation of hybrids say they will provide embryonic stem cells for the treatment of an array of diseases. So far, however, only non-embryonic stem cells have produced treatments for maladies. Harvesting embryonic stem cells destroys the embryo, while procuring non-embryonic cells does not do such harm to the donor.

Alton described the creation of human-animal hybrids as "dabbling in the grotesque."

"Ethically it can never be justifiable — it discredits us as a country," Alton said, according to the newspaper.

"At every stage the justification from scientists has been: if only you allow us to do this, we will find cures for every illness known to mankind. This is emotional blackmail.

"On moral and ethical grounds this fails, and on scientific and medical ones too," Alton said.

In the United States, there is no federal law outlawing the private creation of human-animal hybrids.

Alton also learned in response to a parliamentary question that more than 1.5 million human embryos created by in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the last 20 years have been destroyed, The Daily Mail reported July 22.

British scientists have created more than 3 million embryos by IVF, but fewer than 100,000 babies have been born as a result. That means it requires more than 30 unborn children to be created by IVF for each successful birth.

Of the 3.1 million embryos created, about 1.46 million were discarded during treatment, about 101,000 were donated for destructive research and about 764,000 were placed in frozen storage. The remaining embryos were implanted, producing about 94,000 births, according to the newspaper.

"We are creating and destroying human embryos on an industrial scale," Alton said.

— BP

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