Submission from the Reverend Christopher
The mixing of human and animal DNA raises serious
ethical concerns. For example what proportion of the resulting
hybrid or chimera needs to by human in order to be afforded the
protections of human tissue and embryos? Some may argue that restricting
the practice to research purposes removes these ethical objections
but this ignores two significant issues.
Firstly, if the research successfully identifies
a mechanism of producing, for example, stem cells, these cell
lines would continue to be produced for research purposes and
potential treatments. The status of such materials as products
is in my view highly questionable.
Secondly, the regulation of research will become
increasingly difficult requiring extensive testing to establish
the genetic status of a given embryo. This complexity could easily
become an opportunity for the current protections of the human
embryo to be further diminished.
To avoid exploitation of the potential confusion
the Government should hold to a clear stand on this issue with
an outright ban on all intentional transfer of fragments of human
genetic material into animal cells and all mixing of human and
animal DNA. All materials containing any portion of inserted human
DNA should be classified and protected in at least the same way
as 100% human materials. I believe that this is the only way in
which abuses of the current regulations can be prevented.