Sunday, October 30, 2016
Federal Research of Human-Animal Chimeras; Monkey Trials To Follow
The National Institute of Health (NIH) has proposed to lift the ban on federal funding of research for human-animal chimera, e.g., injecting an animal with human stem cells to grow human organs. Many organizations, including the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) oppose lifting the ban. The NhRP argues among other things that such research ignores “the ethical imperatives of an ever-evolving global scientific understanding of nonhuman animals’ cognitive and emotional complexity” already accepted by our culture.
In The Hot Monkey Love Trial Bert defends himself, at the urging of his attorney, by insisting that he is not a “person” because of the unique monkey gene inserted into his genome. It’s a good move since, inconveniently, a real person can be tried for the murder charges he faces.
Steven Wise, founder of the NhRP, tackles the issue head on: “…legal personhood has never been, is not now, nor will it ever be synonymous with the term ‘human being.’” He foresees the inevitability of the legal drama fully acted out in The Hot Monkey Love Trial: “Whether chimeras are considered human beings, nonhuman animals, or a new class altogether remains to be legally explored."
And perhaps decided by a jury.