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Search words: iosaf

Chimera : science is fiction till it is fact

category international | sci-tech | other press author Friday September 23, 2005 13:25author by iosaf Report this post to the editors

Which is more inethical or objectionable? A human animal? or An animal human?

news / spin / PR from UK biotech.

"Scientists have successfully transplanted human chromosomes into mice, a first that promises to transform medical research into the genetic causes of disease. The mice were genetically engineered to carry a copy of human chromosome 21, a string of about 250 genes. About one in a thousand people are born with an extra copy of the chromosome, a genetic hiccup that causes Down's syndrome"

Those words come from this mornings Guardian. I'm not quoting any more, and before I give you the link, I want you to ponder the idea that any health problem or disability may be caused by a "hiccup".

Depending on how you feel about the use of word, will colour your answers to the long series of ethical questions which such research of "chimeras" ought see asked.

I last reported on this issue in june reminded of its importance by an article which appeared in New scientist.

in which I tried to explain what a "chimera" is as a supplement to "The Sunday Papers geneology edition" [my regular overview article] What follows is slightly updated info on that supplement -


Jamie Shreeve a committed writer on bioethics, and author of the "the Genome War", published a 3,141 word article in the current edition of "New Scientist" in last June 2005 as part of global efforts in all media and sectors of society to provoke a rethink on bioethics after the most worrysome licenses were granted most notably in the UK.

It was an overview of the bio-ethic issues relating to human stem cell research and their implant into non human life forms, or to be technical the creation by scientists of "chimeras" life forms which are neither 100% animal or 100% human.

Scientists want to do this, because it aids them in the understanding of diseases and conditions such as "down's syndrome" or "autism". I used autism as an example in late June, as autistics had then celebrated their first ever "pride day" on June 18th this year.

Now Autism in its most severe form means that sufferers have diminished or lack completely aspects of cognitive neurology which *are generally* considered to be uniquely *human* such as understanding or recognising the intentions or wills of others, lingusitic abilities, & ethical, moral and thus social decision making and reactions/ inter-reactions.

Terrence Deacon a biological anthropologist at the University of California (& a member of the John Hopkins working group the main US biotech lobby) as saying "if embryonic stem cells could be cloned from an autistic individual and transplanted into a monkey brain early in its development, perhaps the mechanisms of the disease could be illuminated by observing differences in brain structure and social behaviour between the autistic monkeys and controls who received normal human stem cells"..."this is science fiction".

Yet as we know science is fiction till it is fact, and many of the laboratory application of stem cell research were fiction ten years ago, and also the then scientific community swore on all that humanism is worth that they would never concede such experiments.

And today's spin from the UK biotech sciences sector is that they have done just that.

Xeno-transplants are common, many a man and woman walking this earth with pig bits in the heart, and they're lucky. But what happens when the genetic material of a stem cell is injected or transplanted into an animal?

When & Where are the factors.
When & where is what the UK Biotech team need to answer.

If the human material (which is capable of growing as any part of the human body thats why they're special) is added to an animal before it has properly developed its own embryo, you get an animal with bits of human dna in its entirety. To put it simply you add a bit of human egg to a mouse egg to study alzheimers (brain) you get a mouse with human bits in the tail, eyes, nose, whiskers and gonads. The last word, "gonad" has caused the various government authorities who opened the door on this research, the USA, UK, Italy (remember the vote in may) Spain, et cetera to issue guidelines that

_at no stage are two chimeras to be allowed to breed_

"mister ludd"

Here's a US example worth knowing about : the Weissman case. Irving Weissman (one of those biotech scientists who claims anyone opposed to biotech is morally responsibile for disease and suffering) works at Stanford university USA, and is partner of the private biotech company StemCells Inc.
He has spent the last 2 years lobbying for a license to inject human stem cell material (a bit of some girls eggie) the neuronal bit, (the eggie will be a wee bit developed) [kathurlicks would say it as alive] into the brains of a type of mouse that loses its own neurons just before birth. The result would be a mouse with a brain almost completely composed of human neurons. The Canadians have thus out-lawed the implant of human material into unborn animals but it is legal in most other experimenting states.


Which is more inethical or objectionable?
A human animal? or An animal human?

to qoute Cynthia Cowen and colleagues at Toronto university writing in a recent issue of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics journal argued that what is at risk is human dignity

: a being with only some degree of human-ness [sic] imprisoned in an animal body is not free to experience all the cognitive endowments, emotions and moral rights our species uniquely enjoys".
the article I used for basis:-
some of the scientists involved in this "right to experiment campaign"

this has been happening for years, I personally deal with this by saying "reclaim the genome!" and call an immediate moratorium. Already many european states are prepared to call moratoria, and the last opposition to accept this as a manifesto policy were the Swiss social democrats last week.

Indymedia "global" has a biotech section.
visit it here:-

today's other press link :-

author by C Murraypublication date Fri May 18, 2007 19:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Parliamentary regulations regarding chimera creation have been carried, thus
In the UK, there will be biotech permissions for the creation of 'chimeras' which
will be 99.5% human embryo material and 0.5% animal.

There will be a 14 day research allowance before the destruction of the hybrids.


The issue of fundamentalism in the severe right wing of the Blairite cabinet
is not addressed. Midwives have extracted stem cell material safely
from the umbilicus during the birthing process without harm to the
mother or infant- this has been used to help in treating genetic conditions.
There is no figure yet as to the effiacy of non- intrusive treatments, but in
comparison to the unethical chimera creation- it would be preferable?

The corporate world seems intent on going into very unethical areas
in order to achieve maximum profit , which includes using untested drugs to stimulate
ovarian production for IVF treatments , which have resulted in at least one death
in a Dublin Hospital.

If the material needed for treating disease can be garnered non-intrusively
with consent, then surely the ethics of the corporations who have lobbied
strongly on the creation of chimera embryos is in question.

The treatment of illness is secondary to the profiteering off-shoots of this
unethical experimentation.

The story is in the medical section of Today's London Independent Link.
Both Bush and Merckel used either Veto or parliamentary majority to
stop stem cell research but the issue of consent, ethics, and research
funded by corporations seems not to be dealt with in the UK.

Non-intrusive harvesting -with consent- for the treatment
of illness such as Parkinson's and disabilities has been stopped.
whilst this incredible off-shoot, which is completely unethical has received
permission in the UK?

Two teams of scientists have applied to create the chimera hybrids for research
purposes but the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority put their
applications 'on hold'.

Related Link: http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/article2556477.ece
author by C Murraypublication date Fri May 18, 2007 19:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am pretty sure that the drugs used for ovarian stimulation during harvesting of
eggs for the IVF process have been tested, but there has been a death in a
Dublin hospital over the last years , which was a direct result of the IVF
process and reported widely at the time.

so apologies for the above statement about 'untested' drugs. The woman
died as a result of the process to harvest the eggs but am not sure if there
has been an enquiry into the death or a coroner's report.

Will research it and put it on here, the comment was trawled out of memory.

The radio report at the time stated that a young woman had died during
IVF treatment in a named Dublin hospital.

author by the diogenes clubpublication date Sat May 19, 2007 11:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's been just over seven years since I first wrote rants on the internet using my real name & doing my bestest to express what i saw as a civilisation wide horror at the prospects Human Genomic research would take.
I coined the phrase "an evil marriage of capitalist and scientific speculation". I drove my friends mad with my passion for what I called "reclaim the genome!" not simply because they tired of my constant bubbling of ideas, slogans, pitches, treatments, angles, research data &c., but also because they almost to a one insisted I needed a proper website, postal box at the very least & the offer of a t-shirt. Instead I just walked out of the state where I lived and declared myself an ideological exile from the anglo-saxon empire prepared to articulate the struggle for the "creative-principle-equality of human procreation". OF course not many people paid attention to me because I forgot to explain to many who live in the anglo-saxon empire that it is also a very celtic empire. All this of course happened in around the time the supreme wookie GW Bush arrived in the White House. He of course was & still is quite reliant on the fundamentalist Christian lobbies which influence many areas of federal US policy. Accordingly most of the really sticky genetic research which predated and followed on from the first reading of the "Human Genome" got shipped out to other parts of the empire. Kentucky ceased to be the lair of those who would win their Nobel prize for alchemy by giving very rich people a few extra years of life. Milan of course would await a much later set of laws and a two day referendum before placing limits on the imaginations of its biotech specialists. But beyond a doubt the country in our hemisphere which carried the yoke was Scotland. More than a few people know that the amount of money and research data tied up in Scottish biotech had more of an influence on attitudes to a landslide SNP victory. But I aside......
Now I want you to think out of your boxies. Everything we do with science or think of doing with science made be done elsewhere unless we control the supply of the equipment and raw material and recipes. That's why we do nukes and hot countries have a harder more expensive black market time of it. But anyone with a lot of money and a big freezer and most importantly a big computer can clone sheep, enhance humans & tinker with the old chimera.
Of course we in this hemisphere regardless of dominant ethical backdrops be they humanist or religious find the idea of clones, chimeras and enhancement repulsive. It's tied up with our notions of what life and the individual means. Oriental and Asian cultures do not share these notions and thus it is no surprise that the creepy doctors of Scotland who got their green light for alchemy from the House of Lords Feb 23, 2000 are matched (& perhaps exceeded) in their machinations by people with more melanin and less body hair than us in far far away land.

I've to give you a link.

IBM do supercomputers - if you want to mess with genes you need one of those. These links didn't really excite much interest outside the sci-tech readership - http://robots.net/article/2218.html http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6600965.stm : US scientists managed to simulate "half a mouse brain cortex" using the IBM BlueGene L computer. As supercomputers go it's not so shit hot anymore. In fact it's slower than the computer which Kasparov sent into downtime over his chess games (c/f the article entitled "black and white") & it's like a 1980's kiddies videogame compared to the BSC which is the fastest most powerful supercomputer on public record in Europe. I life in walking distance of it. Most of its time is spent working out protein relations to the genome rather than the reductio ad absurdum focus on specific "causative or determinist genes As such that massive machine produces data which matches global competitors in the biotech sector and which finds its way into both state and privately sponsored research in places as far away from my little home as Ireland. Oh yes. For once upon a time we entrusted part of our good governance to a party of liberal free marketeers who really had no idea about macrosystems at microlevel (or should that be nanolevel?) but thought a generation of Irish Biotech graduates would put Dublin City University on the list and ensure popular stockholder interest in companies like "Elan".

These people have absolutely no idea of what they've done so far - or the consequences we are yet to observe in the future. I apologise to the reader for not giving proper links, my internet connection has been down this last week - of Bertie at the Lords, Blair in Baghdad, Sarkozy on a yacht, Sarkozy with his wifey, & of course the Germans. So I'm relying on my memory for the links to "sunday papers geneology edition" and of course "black and white". & most of you can use your memories too. We are humans. We are not mice and we are not machines. We are not going to allow machine mice or mice machines & God or Atheist's Random Chance help you if you break the rule on Chimeras.

So the bright sparks amongst you are guffawing! What are they doing simulating half a mouse brain cortex? Where are the capitalist or scientific incentives for that speculation - oh Iosaf chap you're full of shite.

I'll put it succinctly Enhanced Bio Mechanics & Body Transplants The scoffers amongst you remind me an American already feasibility such medical inethical nightmares in the mid 1980's and destroyed his research at the personal intervention of the Polish pontiff. The scoffers doubtless never expected to get past the low appeal of a new body you can't move around within wifi distance of a supercomputer.

Now before I phase ye out, I must apologise too.

I've touched subjects of such horror most people can't credit such plausibilities beyond Sci-Fi movies.

I'm not going to spoon-feed ye or frighten ye today. Though you need to be scared to be quite honest. I'm just going to remind you that the evil marriage of scientific and capitalist speculation still needs a little push to divorce from the fairy godmother crew. If you want to join the fairy god mother crew - I won't offer you a t-shirt or a website.
On a blog space which is no longer as accesible as normal I once wrote about the different methods for catching a mouse. Hardly anyone ever spent time on that blog space but I was astounded that the comical advice on "how to catch a mouse" clocked up so many hits. Then over a week ago the BSC http://www.bsc.es/(supercomputer down the road) popped up on my hit list. They use a European flag. Odd thought I.
same machines - same data - same material - same corp - but a US flag, a EU flag a Chinese flag a JApanese flag....,
The article above which my colleague has pinged with usual self-efacing apologies and regret began as a comment to the Sunday Papers "geneology edition" article (if my memory serves me well).

author by diogenes syndromepublication date Sat May 19, 2007 12:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's been so many years messing with letters & by now most of us have at least thought about clones - seen one in a movie. More than a few Irish people were delighted to invest in Biotech. Quite a lot of Irish parents were proud of their kids who gained the qualifications to prove the celtic tiger of the PD's didn't really carry the mediocre gene of retarded obesity red blooded hetrosexual good point Leaving cert. Yes in only five years we proved we were really nordic. I know I saw the bus-shelter adverts for Jameson Whiskey over here in Barcelona. Behold the modern Irish rich, prosperous and nordic. Yes indeed centuries of slavery in Iceland left their mark.

until humanity is born to equal opportunity - there can be no wisdom found in giving the alchemists of the billionaires space to spell.

Because it's not like transmuting metals, munching trans-fat food or sudoku. If you make "a mistake" you won't know. The first succesful gene splice saw a monkey alive who glowed in the dark. But two other monkeys in the same experiment didn't glow - they just died.
No-one really worried too much why it worked in one $$$$ and didn't in the others. But when your long term species and planetary decisions are made by "good planners" like the PD's and FF you don't really talk about mistakes.

I've no idea why the local supercomputer appeared on the weblog of the blogspace I wrote at. Maybe it wanted to know how to catch mice. Strange, coz i've gone to visit it as marvel at its quaintly cheap & naff look (there are no blue lights) but I never felt an attempt on its behalf to quiz me on the mouse thing. But the flag and IP it leaves are really quite extra-ordinary. It's thicker than Harney and Mickey Mouse together but it is a "superstate" unto itself. I really don't like the fact that the same company build its other superstate supercomputer rival. That's smelly. Supercomputers though can't smell yet. That's how we'll get the chimeras and the bad fnord bastards - we'll sneakup on them and "diogenes syndrome" them. That's what my girlfriend says I have. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diogenes_syndrome

Black and White http://indymedia.ie/article/69096
the last comment http://indymedia.ie/article/72128?show_comment_titles=t...94681

author by C Murraypublication date Sat May 19, 2007 13:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Whilst Mr Blair visits Iraq. Jimmy Carter has accused him of supporting the bad policies of Bush
and thus endangering the planet. Bit late.

Carter chose to ignore the Romero assasination and the upheavals in Latin America which
led to the torture and dissappearances of millions. it was US foreign policy at the time.

But, the issue of domestic Blairite policy is hidden and obfuscated by foreign policy
in which the importation of evangelical fundamentalism in Wyclef in Oxford and the
appointment of Reid and Kelly have led to that fundamentalism being transmuted
into domestic policy which refuses to countenance or examine the harm that
religious rationalism has caused to the people of Britain- the stories are not

1. During the murder of prostitutes in Ipswich the Blair government closed down
any possibility of discussion on rights for sex workers because it would offend the
Middle English voters who bought the messianic crap purveyed by the regime.

2. Legislation was passed to allow purchase of young women's eggs for a check of
£250 english pounds, the procedure to stimulate the ovaries for harvest is quite
intrusive and many would only resort to IVF if all other avenues of conception had
been exhausted. And then with full counselling, knowledge and consent of the
couple or woman involved.

3.There have been suicides of impoverished British women in British prisons
for which families are trying to get knowledge and protesting, the issue is only coming
through on Indymedia UK. The prisons there, like here are badly serviced and in the
midst of privatisation.

Now, if the delicacy of the soon to be converted Blair is harmed by refusal to countenance
that there are societal off-shoots of globalisation at work within the British 'economy'
then he should never had sought to lead a nation which like all globalised economies
has failed its most vulnerable by tieing up all social problems into some
outside moral construct that does not look at how policy effects individuals.

The allowance for creation of 'chimeras', when non-invasive methods of stem cell
harvest to alleiviate illness has proven to be as effective and more importantly
achieved with knowledge and participation of those directly involved in the search
for remedies would point to profiteering.

Funny how ammoral the evangelical right is, but of course Mr Blair is right now in
Iraq. Legislating for invasive egg harvesting and chimera production, but refusing
to countenance the rights of those who provide the necessary raw material.

author by C Murraypublication date Sat May 19, 2007 20:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In the ruling on the Monica Roa constitutional challenge to Columbian abortion Law,
one of the sections includes the allowance for abortion in the case of 'enforced IVF'.

This scenario can be grounded in the problems of the insistence on conception
by some husbands and other family members as part of the marriage issue
and the perceived role of women within that relationship.

not being complacent here, but, there does seem to be an awful amount of
pressure within some societal constructs for women to conceive and fullfill
that societal role, imagine a codicil or insertion against enforced IVF-(?)

In the 'Meritocratic' world- it is not an issue, though, the consistent erosion
of accepted reproductive rights by the new fundamentalism would point to
the issue being current in such disparate areas as Poland/Portugal/UK/
Nicaragua/North and Latin America. The continuous imposition of a set of
values grounded in an uneven/imbalanced legislature and a fundamentalist
hierarchy that does not dialogue with women.

[The links to the egg-donor cheques and current UK legislation will be added in


Related Link: http://womenslinkworldwide.org
author by C Murraypublication date Sun May 20, 2007 12:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Blair to Lure US Stem Cell Firms:-


Harvard Starts Human Cloning Works;-


[The Carter Speech;- http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0322.01.htm]


[has info on the interests of amongst others, Mr Richard Branson in the area of
creating genomic banks and data research in the area- jayzhus climate change
and genomic research, whilst a pair of his shoes would feed a family for a year.
This is why the very rich live behind walls]

author by iosafpublication date Mon Aug 27, 2007 22:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I first attempted to explain & explore the ethical issues associated with the "chimera" in this comment http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=70462&con...12601

For those who don't want to go to that link, a chimera is an organism which shares both Human and Animal celular or genetic characteristics. In the last weeks I found myself using the name "Dr Moreau" in some comments, the name derives from a character in the novella of the same name by HG Wells. Dr Moreau in the science fiction of almost a century ago turned animals into near humans for whatever sense of mad science one may well wonder.
"Science is fiction till it is fact"
Yesterday's Observer newspaper in the UK announced that British scientists are now pleading "the right to create the first animal-human embryos for medical research using eggs taken from dead cows."

As above in the article and in the first exploration of the theme, I ask you to wonder which is more ethically objectionable - an animal human or a human animal. We can go many ways on it. The first Thursday of this month the Humanist Society of Ireland held one of their chinwags on the theme of "stem cell research". Of course I didn't go, I live in Barcelona - but I was aware that the chinwag dealt with the theme of human egg research. Now I'm not basing any objection to this research on notions of the sanctity of human life, after all I've argued extending some rights to the great simians. Nor am I arguing against such research on the vegan wing of "all life is sacred". It is curious in the novel "Dr Moreau's island" how the narrator, a vegetarian teetotaler deals with the moral issues of vivisection or creation of a chimera............he finds the idea of an animalised human more disgusting than that of a humanised animal. Of course these scientists in the UK will obey the rules (explained in the first article http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=70462&con...12601
and destroy their chimeras long before they could come to any consciousness process. Of course as I argued in the debate on granting some rights to the simians - we must wonder if Religious when did the first human receive a soul. Do animal humans or human animals enjoy the "right to life" or get ensoulment?

I propose that we have long passed one of the most alarming thresholds of biotech research. we are all created equally that self-evident truth means disallowing any possibility of facilitating the development of "human enhancement".

Of course the scientists who wish create a chimera aren't going to do that - they're going to save lives. First rich lives or those lucky enough to buy or test run the new genetic based therapies. Probably poor africans.

author by Dr Moreaupublication date Wed Sep 05, 2007 19:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the statement from the UK's HFEA released in last hour -
an excerpt :-
"Having looked at all the evidence the Authority has decided that there is no fundamental reason to prevent cytoplasmic hybrid research. However, public opinion is very finely divided with people generally opposed to this research unless it is tightly regulated and it is likely to lead to scientific or medical advancements. This is not a total green light for cytoplasmic hybrid research, but recognition that this area of research can, with caution and careful scrutiny, be permitted. Individual research teams should be able to undertake research projects involving the creation of cytoplasmic hybrid embryos if they can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of an HFEA licence committee, that their planned research project is both necessary and desirable. They must also meet the overall standards required by the HFEA for any embryo research. Having looked at the principles behind this kind of research, an HFEA licence committee will now look at the details of the two specific research applications that were submitted earlier this year. We would hope to have a decision on both applications in November."............."In terms of other kinds of hybrid and chimera research, it became very clear that not only did the scientific community not wish to perform such research at present but that the prospect was so distant that they could not envisage what form this research would possibly take in the future. The Authority felt it would be completely wrong to make a decision on broader hybrid and chimera research without an adequate evidence base. However, the HFEA will continue to monitor the potential for this wider research and any emerging evidence through its 'horizon scanning? programme."

the background from the HFEA on the chimera decision (the majority of people when polled said they were all up for fighting Alzheimers and Parkinsons by abducting cows & mixing bovine DNA with unwanted crack babies when it was explained to them in a proper scienific way)

There is already a Dutch milking or dairy cow with Human DNA :- "A Dutch biotechnology company called Pharming has genetically engineered cows, outfitting females with a human gene that causes them to express high levels of the protein human lactoferrin in their milk. According to Pharming's website, [ http://www.pharming.com/ ]the protein—which is naturally present in human tears, lung secretions, milk and other bodily fluids—fights against the bacteria that causes eye and lung infections, plays a key role in the immune system of infants and adults and improves intestinal microbial balance, promoting the health of the gastro-intestinal tract." So we can all get rational and grown up about this, coz that will be another Dutch cash cow quicker than you can pronounce Mahmoud Ahmadinejad & it was obvious the UK's HFEA had to safeguard the future of biotech. http://seedmagazine.com/news/2006/04/human_animal.php?p...age=1

Now the terminology as this is reported will be important. Some media will report this as "animal human embryo" and others will chose the "human animal embryo" angle, whilst the scientists who know best will just say cytoplasmic hybrid.

cytoplasmic hybrid - sounds so harmless.
cytoplasmic hybrid - sounds so harmless.

Related Link: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5guvLCMe97Y-GfvCAvANP_fJ23kDQ
author by mycroft - my pasture & my effin flockpublication date Sat Oct 20, 2007 14:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

forgive me I don't know what I'm doing like - but a planet full of people either more stupid or smarter than I am is preferable to a world where everyone is just as perfect as I am & all the girlies are pretty.

Human enhancement is an impossible chimera which belongs to the pages of science fiction & cardboard stereotypes. We as societies either realise the impossibility now & turn back on a truly profitless route of human scientific speculation - or you & I my peers are lighting our torches & mobbing Frankenstein's castle... again.

It wouldn't be hallowe'en season if we didn't admit we have souvenirs from the last time. Ná díol caora dhubh, ná ceannaigh caora dhubh, agus ná bí gan caora dhubh. We can observe & marvel at evolution & our place in it but we are by our nature incapable of doing evolution

warrents in the post.

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