Feeds

Men could have kids with chimpanzees - gov must act

Religious bioethics hardliner's amazing claim

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A leading Scottish churchman and bioethics thinktank operator has warned again of the dangers attendant on genetic research, and recommended that there should be a law against men having children with female chimpanzees.

The Scotsman reports today that Calum MacKellar, an Elder of the Church of Scotland who trained as a biochemist, has called for government action to prohibit the possible interbreeding of men and lady chimps to create "humanzees".

"The Human Fertilisation and Embryo Bill prohibits the placement of animal sperm into a woman," the worried Christian told the Scotsman.

"The reverse is not prohibited. It's not even mentioned. This should not be the case."

Dr MacKellar is apparently concerned about the possible human rights and status of humanzees.

"If it was never able to be self-aware or self-conscious it would probably be considered an animal," he said. "However, if there was a possibility of humanzees developing a conscience, you have a far more difficult dilemma on your hands."

MacKellar believes that a law against the creation of chimp-human halfbreeds by meddling scientists is necessary. He speculated that in the absence of any such law, unscrupulous boffins would be sure to manufacture humanzees in order to harvest them for transplant organs.

"There's a desperate need for organs," he warned.

"If they could create these humanzees who are substantially human but are not considered as humans in law, we could have a large provision of organs."

Dr MacKellar is already well known for flagging up various possibilities which he thinks might occur as a result of research involving human DNA. He pretty much always feels that such research should be outlawed or at the very least tightly regulated.

In 2000, MacKellar suggested that cloning techniques could be used to produce a child with two fathers and no mother, a technique that was thought likely to appeal to gay men. He said that the government should consider the ethical issues raised by this, and that legislation should cover the issue - even though serious scientists said it was a far-fetched notion at best.

There can't be much doubt that MacKellar would have been hoping to see the male-only kids possibility forbidden. He has written a paper (apparently available online only in French, or translated by Google here) arguing that homosexuality is an affliction which a moral, Christian person does not yield to - just like paedophilia or murderous rage.

Dr MacKellar has also made his own position on human embryo research in general entirely clear. The Church of Scotland said in 2006 that it was opposed to any creation of human embryos "by IVF methods or nuclear transfer cloning methods". However, the Kirk made an exception for research into "serious diseases ... under exceptional circumstances".

Elder MacKellar was strongly against this exception, writing at the time:

Christians believe that all persons, whether they are embryonic or have been born, cannot be reduced to ‘piles of cells’ even though some may be very small, short-lived or unconscious ... Christians accept that every person is amazingly loved and valued by an amazing God ... this love of God forms the basis of human personhood, which is a mystery that can never be determined from scientific concepts alone ...

This is a crucial Christian belief and for many it also gives full moral status to early human embryos ... all research on human embryos is morally wrong.

MacKellar was also widely quoted - on the basis of his bioethics rather than religious background - for his opposition to medical researchers' application to use human DNA carried in cow eggs stripped of their nuclei. He felt that even this would "begin to undermine the whole distinction between humans and animals".

Not unlike his concept of "humanzees" created for organ harvesting, in fact, described by more mainstream scientists as "impractical" and by the government as "impossible".

But the "humanzee" notion is certainly a great way for MacKellar to cast stem-cell scientists - or indeed anyone who ever dares mess with a human embryo for any reason whatsoever - as evil, perverse lunatics.

Read the Scotsman "exclusive" scoop here, in which Dr McKellar's views are explored again.®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.