Wednesday, February 01, 2006

'Human-Animal Hybrids'

by Tom Bozzo

A variation on the title of the post is posed as a question at MaxSpeak (and Eschaton), drawn from this paragraph from the SOTU text:
Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms; creating or implanting embryos for experiments; creating human-animal hybrids; and buying, selling or patenting human embryos. [multiple forms of emphasis added]
To the uninitiated, the most emphasized soundbite might have sounded like an addition of the Island of Dr. Moreau to the Axis of Evil. (*) Readers of Chris Mooney's The Republican War On Science will immediately see this as a bone thrown to the religious right at the expense of promising forms of biomedical research. A ban on cloning in "all its forms" could easily be codified so as to cripple embryonic stem cell research far beyond the already corrosive effects of the existing Bush policy in the matter; we've been there and nearly done that in Wisconsin, where fundamentalists in the legislature were happy to undercut the local biotech industry.

The Republican War on Science is our current reading material, and its account of the Republican corruption of stem cell science is among its most compelling sections. One of Mooney's biggest contributions is to lay out the actual case for stem cell research, which goes far beyond developing the tissue transplant therapies that are the focus of most reporting in mass media. Mooney reports, based upon an explanation from Lawrence Goldsetin of UCSD, that embryonic stem cell research has four broad applications (pp. 187-8):
So, far from protecting us from Lovecraftian horrors, Bush actually proposed to make us sicker and dumber to score some political points with the fringes of the Christian right.

Why does anyone think the guy has a vision?

(*) I assume that "human-animal hybrids" refers to adding human genes to animal genomes for various research purposes, rather than the creation of vile half-human beasts. (Addendum: Yep. See PZ Myers for why this is a Really Useful Thing.) This was just about all of the address that we saw live, having ended a multi-evening slog through "Funny Girl" (nothing against Barbra, it's just hard to carve out the time for a 2 hr. 45 min. movie) without knowing what time it was, and we happened upon the broadcast. Suzanne's correct reaction was that "that must be some crazy-ass code for something crazy-assed."
George Bush's theory: Smart people poke holes in my arguments, and want keep me from doing things that I want to do, like spying on people and imposing my morality on them. Maybe if we breed people to be stupider and don't help them fix their problems, they won't care what government does. Wouldn't that be a perfect world?

Ergh. The whole Republican war on science makes me sick.
They put a human together with a horse's ass and got Flubya, so maybe that whole human/animal hybrid idea isn't such a bad one after all?

Scientists have been mixing human DNA with mice embryos, splicing human and pig genes, etc. FOR YEARS! Even when I was back in college in the early 80's!

GOP and the "war on science."
Hee hee.

Really, since these experiments aren't new, I do wonder why the alarm was sounded now.

Could Alito really have an open mind, so a sop needs to be thrown at the Base? (Nah. But I'm still curious.)
Waiting for Michael Berube to weigh in on the idea of stopping research into Down's Syndrome...

There should be a wave of Hawthorne citations again; clearly, hybrids are the new stem cells of Xian radio...

Meanwhile, no matter what blogger says, I refuse to believe that "gdwmvcqs" is a word, though I'll concede it would improve Scrabble scores immensely if it were.
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