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  1.  (7194.1)
    Disclaimer: I did do a reasonably good search on ethics, genes, genetic engineering, etc. first, so apologies if there's a similar thread that I missed.

    But I was just now doodling around looking at news and stumbled upon this article.

    A mouse that can speak? A monkey with Down's Syndrome? Dogs with human hands or feet? British scientists want to know if such experiments are acceptable, or if they go too far in the name of medical research.

    To find out, Britain's Academy of Medical Sciences launched a study Tuesday to look at the use of animals containing human material in scientific research.
    ...
    Using human material in animals is not new. Scientists have already created rhesus macaque monkeys that have a human form of the Huntingdon's gene so they can investigate how the disease develops; and mice with livers made from human cells are being used to study the effects of new drugs.

    But scientists say the technology to put ever greater amounts of human genetic material into animals is spreading quickly around the world -- raising the possibility that some scientists in some places may want to push boundaries.

    "There is a whole raft of new scientific techniques that will make it not only easier but also more important to be able to do these cross-species experiments," Bobrow said.
    ...
    Bobrow said there was a "sort of understanding" within the scientific community that "as you get close to 50/50 mix" of human and animal material, the boundaries are near, but he said laws were vague at best.

    "Do most of us care if we make a mouse whose blood cells or liver are human? Probably not," he said. "But if it can speak? If it can think? Or if it is conscious in a human way? Then we're in a completely different ballpark."


    Just thought I would throw it out there to see what your thoughts were on the whole idea. How far is too far, and why? When does it become unethical, if the concept of experimenting on animals for research isn't itself unethical? If medical experiments require this much "human" in the animals, how about farming up some people instead? If that'd be even worse, why? Does this have implications down the road for genetically engineering humans with a hint of whichever animal (transhumanism, yes?)? What about non-medical applications - would you really want a talking cat (maybe the wrong animal) or a dog that could use a tin-opener? And so on...

    Curious about your opinions, I personally am a bit unsettled by it but haven't quite figured out why. I don't like the idea of people doing experiments on live animals but science has made huge advances as a result of doing them, and I'm not clear as to whether the data they gather in animal experiments these days could be obtained from computer models alone yet. I feel like a gene here and there is one thing, but large amounts of human material and functions like speech (I would think the biology could get quite messy and human-heavy there) really get a strong gut reaction from me when I imagine it.
  2.  (7194.2)
    Reminds me of The Island of Dr.Moreau. The book; not the movie, and outcry over the use of vivisection when it was the shiny new tecnique of the day. In reality, the technique did not actually result in human-animals taking over the world. But it did cause protests on the behalf of how ethical -or unethical- is was perceived to be.

    From what I understand, there are laws in place that govern how much human material can be used; and I know for sure the "If it can speak" thing is a bit of an inflammatory statement, designed to get a rise out of the reader. Scientists are not creating mythical beast people, human beings with doey animal eyes for abuse and torture , and the lives of chimeras in most places are very, very short. For example;

    British lawmakers voted to legalize the creation of animal-human embryos for medical research. In the future, scientists in Britain will be allowed to combine human DNA with animal egg cells. But the law says the resulting "chimera" embryos must destroyed within 14 days, and cannot be implanted. From [here]


    Fourteen Days from its creation, the embryo must be destroyed.

    Embryo

    If that bugger's talking, I think we have a bit more to worry about than how human it is.
    • CommentAuthorFan
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2009
     (7194.3)
    I think that the distinction between human and animal is pretty nebulous already: artificial, kind of self-serving, might-makes-right, and amoral on the part of humans. Personally, given the choice I avoid paying to have animals slaughtered, like human beings. That said I'm not too proud to accept present-day benefits of medical science, even if it has been gained in part at the cost of others' lives. I think it would be better if we as a supposedly intelligent and moral species were a little bit braver about living within our own limits instead of encroaching so on others. I vote for a moratorium on exploiting animals ("sentient beings"), but it's clear to me that this is a minority opinion.
    •  
      CommentAuthorRemedy Loame
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2009 edited
     (7194.4)
    @Rootfireember - Yes, I did figure they were going to extremes with the imagery in the article but it still brought up questions for me, despite how unlikely it would be to actually occur. Just wondering more as a what-if and how far is it acceptable to go, including outside of the UK. The chimaera stuff is interesting too, I will have to look further into it because I'm not entirely understanding the usefulness of an embryo that gets binned after 14 days, so thanks! (I also didn't know about the "saviour sibling" being approved, so double thanks!), But it did remind me slightly of something else, a book or a film, not Moreau (though it did come to mind for a second) - name and plot escape me. Never mind. (edit: I may have been thinking of the mouse with the ear on its back from years ago.)

    @Fan - It's definitely self-serving, perhaps it is more just a matter of time for development of other ways, better computer models and more cost-effective and efficient ways to, I don't know, grow human body parts in labs. So there's no real need to go mucking about in the genetic makeup of other animals. Encroachment brings up the issue of overpopulation, too, urgh...whole other can of worms. Thanks for your thoughts!

    (Also, sorry about stupid questions, I can be a little too what-iffy for my own good!)
  3.  (7194.5)
    I’m all for anything that might eventually engineer me a pig with a nine-inch transplantable human cock. Especially if I can eat the bacon after the surgery.
  4.  (7194.6)
    Oddly enough, James, well, it's not nine inches with complimentary bacon, but...working lab-grown rabbit penises seem to be happening.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeNov 9th 2009
     (7194.7)
    An intelligent dog would make a great apartment mate. He could tell you which of your dates is really interested in you (pheremones), and help you sort out laundry into "one more day" and "wash right now" piles.
    •  
      CommentAuthortedcroland
    • CommentTimeNov 10th 2009
     (7194.8)
    The way I see it, the "throw shit against a wall" method of genetic science seems a little irresponsible, but fuck it I want some goddamned abominations already! Hearing about them my whole life, never have I actually seen a true abomination of science.



    Whoops.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeNov 10th 2009
     (7194.9)
    There's really no such thing as "human DNA" and "animal DNA". most human genes are either identical to the equivalent animal gene or very similar to it. The difference between humans and other primates seems mainly to come down to a relative handful of genes; difference in gene expression and having extra copies of some genes.

    There's also a natural phenomena known as horizontal gene transfer where viruses transfer genes between different species. That's been going on for hundreds of millions of years. So, genetic engineering is lot less "unnatural" than people assume.

    I definitely don't believe in causing unnecessary suffering in any sentient being but proivded you aren;t doing that, stick whatever genes you like wherever you like.
  5.  (7194.10)
    How far?
    Until we make something that enslaves us/turns us extinct.
    And if that happens, then we deserved it.
    •  
      CommentAuthorCyman
    • CommentTimeNov 10th 2009
     (7194.11)
    By that logic, Cornelius, do we deserve it now? You've put "deserved" in past tense, y'see. And if we deserve it now, then it would seem we've already gone too far.
  6.  (7194.12)
    Cyman wrote:
    By that logic, Cornelius, do we deserve it now? You've put "deserved" in past tense, y'see. And if we deserve it now, then it would seem we've already gone too far.
    I wish to plead temporal ignorance.
    • CommentAuthorPhranky
    • CommentTimeNov 10th 2009
     (7194.13)
    Without reading the original post and any other subsequent replies I'm going to say "not far enough". As a young boy at heart I have an unhealthy fixation with any grotesque mutations and oddities, so much so that I will only be satisfied until science has created an Island of Dr. Moreau style event whereby all the animal-humans have recreated 'Animal Farm'.

    If funding is lacking then perhaps donations could be requested from furries.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeNov 10th 2009
     (7194.14)
    "How far?
    Until we make something that enslaves us/turns us extinct.
    And if that happens, then we deserved it. "

    Or something that ask us to stop.
  7.  (7194.15)
    If funding is lacking then perhaps donations could be requested from furries.

    And that’s too far.
  8.  (7194.16)
    There are fairly strict laws about what you can and can't do to animals in a lab in the name of science; with quality of care and minimization of suffering being one of them. I don't see how chimeras - would be exempt from the level of care that even a laboratory mouse gets now-days.

    The days of madcap experiments, I believe, are rather long gone, with the rising standard of ethics in the scientific and psychological communities.

    As for how far is too far? - When something causes needless suffering to a subject (human or animal), for no benefit to the subject, mankind or the subject's species in general. Reactions to procedures, treatments and medications can and will occur in an experimental setting- one's working with stuff that was, until then, untested, afterall. But as long as attempts are made to ensure that the animal is in no extreme amount of stress, suffering or pain-- I've got no problem with stuff.

    While daydreams of Moreau's island are fun, I believe we've got a long way to go before we have to fear leopard and hyena men trying to chomp our bones.

    I do have a question I've been mulling over the past few days:

    at what point does a Chimera stop being an animal, and become human?
    • CommentAuthorgzapata
    • CommentTimeNov 11th 2009
     (7194.17)
    @rootfireember- When they are able to explain to me how to play black jack


    In all seriousness I'd like to never find out
  9.  (7194.18)
    Humans and chimps are about 96% the same, genetically, according to [This Study]; if we use that as a baseline to work with, it gives one quite a bit of room before a chimera goes from animal to human. Though I expect things to be really interesting when you pass the 96% same-as-human mark .
    • CommentAuthorgzapata
    • CommentTimeNov 11th 2009
     (7194.19)
    I thought it was even more than that actually
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeNov 11th 2009
     (7194.20)
    "I believe we've got a long way to go before we have to fear leopard and hyena men trying to chomp our bones."

    To judge from the artwork I've seen, the furries might go for a leopard woman nibbling on their bone.