Wednesday, 19 September 2007

And Here It Begins...

The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority have begun to consider research proposals for work on human-animal hybrid embryos. Chris Hack alerted the Post-Faith Conference Pro-Life Support Group on Facebook to the fact that the HFEA are putting up the details of the research applications in layman's terms, and they are asking for comments, either by post or email.

I am not sure if adverse comments will succeed in stopping any of the proposed research getting its licence, but we cannot stay quiet in the face of such ghastly experiments.

To say that there is less than 1% of animal DNA present in the hybrid rather begs the question: why allow experimentation on human embryos? Added to which, the human genome is only 2% different from that of the chimpanzee.

At the moment there are only two applications. The first proposal, from the University of Nottingham, involves transfering human DNA into rabbit eggs. That research is based on work carried out already in China. The idea is that by cloning these cells to get stem cell lines, the ethical concerns associated with the creation of embryos in order to obtain stem cells will be eliminated. The scientists totally fail to grasp the idea that creation of human-animal hybrids is morally repugnant to begin with!

The second proposal is from King's College, London. This time the scientists want to combine DNA from humans with genetic neurodegenerative disorders (such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Diseases) with the eggs from cattle and sheep, in order to produce "faulty" stem cells which can be studied in more detail.

The next step for the second proposal, logically, would be to inject these faulty stem cells into whole animals, because petri dishes cannot demonstrate memory loss or muscle wasting. This is not scare-mongering: I was at the Institute of Psychiatry when they were pioneering work on foetal tissue transplantation. I've taken part in this work. It will not stop here.

(Oh, and before you try the "if you had a seriously ill relative you'd take a different view..." line of attack, I would just like to point out that one of my grandmothers had Parkinson's disease, and one of my Grandfathers has Alzheimer's. And I still don't think it's morally acceptable to experiment on human embryos.)

And don't say that the embryos will not be allowed to go beyond 14 days. Scientists always push the envelope...

This is only the start.

You can email the HFEA at:

or write to them by snail mail at:
The Regulation Department (Research),
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority,
21 Bloomsbury Street,
London WC1B 3HF

There is an excellent document by the Linacre Centre which summarises why such research is morally repugnant. If you need help on how to phrase your letter to the HFEA, you could use a few points from this summary, but please don't just cut-and-paste.

The closing date is 1st November 2007.
All holy angels and saints of God, pray for the unborn, pray for us.


Anonymous said...

You are right. It will not stop here. Scientists will, and do 'push the envelope' in the interest of science you understand. And science, well, its so neutral and objective isn't it?

I have had one or two quite bitter rows about this subject in my parish over the last couple weeks. And, what do you know? Yes, every 'good' Catholic has told me exactly the same thing: if you had a relative suffering with Parkinsons (substitute any other 'suffering' medical condition) you wouldn't argue against it.

They all must have bought the Daily Mail 'crib' sheet; ten reasons to support Chimera research. You know, the one that fell out of the Saturday edition you weren't going to buy in any case.

Meanwhile, in the real world of medical science cells extracted from living adults, and from Umbilical cords are already being used to make very significant progress in Parkinson's disease research. Any progress from Chimera research is still going to be measured in decades, if at all. So why kill the babies? What's that about?

leutgeb said...

Human beings only 2% different genetically from chimpanzee.

That's still a rather large number though isn't it. How many genes does it take to map a human being?
Presumably, genes also create situations for a person by acting in combination, in which case we've just multiplied up that 2% by big big number.

Don't know much about genetics , but I like numbers.

Human beings are just a lot more precious and complex than this sort of consultation can express.

Emigration is looking attractive.
Isn't is wonderful to live in a country slated by the Vatican in this week's Catholic Herald.

Or as Tony Blair put it,' We must not let morality stand in the way of scientific progress.'

Had he really considered what that means?

How can this happen without a vote in Parliament, or have I missed something?

And some people still say there's no slippery slope.

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

This is nasty and unworkable. It isn't just grossly unethical -it's daft. If embryo research has failed so badly-and it has-how will this help anyone?

I'd like to throw my wheelchair at them...and my crutches!...and anything else I can think of!!

I think people like me WILL get healing eventually-but it will be much later because the funding for real help in adult stem cells is being diverted off to this crap.

Anonymous said...

"Or as Tony Blair put it,' We must not let morality stand in the way of scientific progress."

Leutgeb: yes, I think he knew what he was saying when he said it. He isn't a stupid man. What he meant was; if UK PLC doesn't get stuck in here, then we can say goodbye to loads of filthy lucre.

He might also have said: we must not let morality stand in the way of BAE Systems paying bribes to those arab princes so we can sell those deth dealing fighters to a despotic islamic state.

Oh no, he never said that did he. We don't 'do' morality.

Anonymous said...

The arrogance of these scientists never ceases to amaze me any more and this has been for quite some time.

How these boil-heads ever considered that cybrids have reduced life span? This experiment is not only unethical but a failed one at that.

Red Maria said...

Why bother writing to the HFEA? It's not as if it has any intention of listening to you. The last time the HFEA was deluged with objections to one of its proposals ... what was it? oh yes, chimera embryos, it simply ignored the consultation exercise.
If the HFEA doesn't set any store by its own consultations why should you?

Note to William: you can't be a "good" Catholic, a "bad" Catholic or indeed any kind of Catholic and in favour of chimera embryos. The people you have wasted your time arguing with at your parish (again, why bother?) clearly haven't the faintest clue about Catholic doctrine, or even elementary logic come to that. But that's your parish priest's responsibility. I think you should inform him that he has parishioners who are in a state of serious ignorance, that they have a right to be educated in Catholic doctrine and ask him what he intends to do about it.

Anonymous said...

Brave new world!

Anonymous said...

Red Maria writes ... 'But that's your parish priest's responsibility. I think you should inform him that he has parishioners who are in a state of serious ignorance...'

Not only serious ignorance BUT SERIOUS MORTAL SIN !!!!!! How about reflecting for a moment on those words we say at Holy Mass .... 'in my thoughts, in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do'. FAILED to inform my conscience about Church Teaching. And yet you will see these same parishioners queing up for Communion in the hand week in week out without an iota of a clue about what or rather Who they are receiving in a state of sin. What???, going to the Sacrament of Confession - but I don't sin, do I ??????

Serious ignorance in Faith and Doctrine are the blight of the Catholic Church. Yes, Parish Priests carry much responsibility, but so do Bishops who refuse to listen to the Holy Father, Catechists who foist their own lukewarm fuzzy notions of 'catholic' teaching on young minds, Catholic schools who relegate the Catholic Faith to no more than a GCSE subject with low priority at that and parents who simply can't be bothered are too lazy and expect everyone else to be doing their job for them.

Meanwhile Our Blessed Lord waits patiently on each and every one of us while we 'lost sheep' scarper about all over the place looking for 'greener grass'!

Oh yes, sorry I digress, back to chimeras, aliens and freak shows - the HFEA is a waste of space, the deal is done, junk scientists are already way past this point anyway in their little cosy labs all over the world using public funds (that's out taxes folks!) to add their 'slaughter of the innocents' to that already being conducted by other junk scientists and
'death-doctors' in abortuaries all over the world. They continue Herod's work at the bidding of their master - Satan who continues to whisper 'you will be like gods'.

What was that in Sunday's Gospel - you cannot serve two masters? Hmmmm

Anonymous said...

Red Maria: "wasting my time" having rows with parishioners. I believe it is actually a work of spiritual mercy to instruct the ignorant and counsel the doubtful.

As to whether it is the parish priest's responsibility to correct the ignorant - not sure I agree with you.Not his alone. See above.

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