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Geneticist Playing Mad Scientist

erix! (CC)

erix! (CC)


If you’re female, of child-bearing age, and anywhere near Harvard University campus, it might be a good idea to avoid the genetics labs there. Unless, of course, you don’t mind the idea of being solicited to give birth to a Neanderthal.

Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School believes he can reconstruct Neanderthal DNA and resurrect the species which became extinct 33,000 years ago.

His scheme is reminiscent of Jurassic Park but, while in the film dinosaurs were created in a laboratory, Professor Church’s ambitious plan requires a human volunteer.

If that isn’t creepy… But, “ick-factor” aside, as anyone who’s watched or read the “Jurassic Park” films and books can understand, there’s a very good reason why creatures that have long since ceased to exist on this planet probably wouldn’t fare too well in today’s world. Let’s get real here. People today often have enough trouble raising human children. Church thinks it would be a “good” thing to introduce a whole new group of genetic anomalies to the current mix? That is what he is talking about, by the way. On the off chance that this experiment would be successful, the next logical step would be to pair the Neanderthal with humans, once the “experiment” would be old enough to reproduce.

Now, the press was kind enough to ask the opinion of someone that actually worries about silly things like ethics. Of course, in spite of only asking for a couple sentences, it seems they truncated that response – everywhere. So, for the sake of fairness, following is the full response from Philippa Taylor of the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF):

‘It is hard to know where to start with the ethical and safety concerns, if this proposal were even possible to carry out. It would involve human cloning, surrogacy (of a Neanderthal!), embryo research, genetic manipulation and ultimately the re-defining of humans. It is hard to see any benefit from this extreme proposal other than stirring up publicity to generate some funding for his research.’

Well, when there is a more complete response to this on the CMF Blog, we’ll have to revisit this insanity!

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