Human Exceptionalism

UK Scientists Seeks to Ban Creation of “Humanzee”

The UK is debating a new bill to govern the ethics of creating embryos. Part of the bill would outlaw putting animal sperm into human eggs. But the reverse is not mentioned and at least one scientist is concerned. From the story:

A leading scientist has warned a new species of “humanzee,” created from breeding apes with humans, could become a reality unless the government acts to stop scientists experimenting. In an interview with The Scotsman, Dr Calum MacKellar, director of research at the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, warned the controversial draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill did not prevent human sperm being inseminated into animals.

He said if a female chimpanzee was inseminated with human sperm the two species would be closely enough related that a hybrid could be born.

He said scientists could possibly try to develop the new species to fill the demand for organ donors.

I am not a scientist but I doubt that the human and chimp are akin to a horse and donkey’s ability to mate and bring forth a mule. Be that as it may, there are those who would dance in the streets at the birth of the first humanzee because they think it would demonstrate that people are not special and thereby subvert human exceptionalism. Or, I suppose, because they want to manufacture a servile class, as envisioned by the late twisted thinker Joseph Fletcher.

But would scientists actually do that? MacKellar thinks that indeed, they would:

He said if the process was not banned, scientists would be “very likely” to try it, and it would be likely humans and chimps could successfully reproduce.

In other words, this scientist believes that the concept of the “mad scientist” may exist generally within the field. And therein lies the rub: If he is right–and I have my doubts–but, if it is true, then it means that a significant percentage of life scientists accept no reasonable limits on their experimentation, which will eventually require society to force them to cease and desist. And then we will hear the squawking from the Science Establishment about how the great unwashed are restricting freedom of inquiry. But if that happens, if lines are crossed best left unexplored, the “blank check” scientists will only have themselves to blame.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Of course they should outlaw putting human sperm into animal eggs.