Hiding behind the term ‘cytoplasmic hybrid research’, rather than declaring honestly that what they would actually authorise is the creation of animal/human hybrid embryos, the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) has once again shocked the world with its libertarian approach to research on the embryo.
Not one single member of the HFEA committee dissented from this appalling decision which was taken on September 5th.
The HFEA has given unanimous approval to the creation of an embryo formed from the egg of an animal (rabbit or cow probably), from which the nucleus will be removed and substituted with a human adult cell. This would fully replicate the process of human cloning which scientists continue to meddle with (albeit unsuccessfully).
If a cloned human embryo is considered fully human then we suggest the same protocols when used in the hybrid process will result in some kind of fully animal/human embryo. Forget about the nonsensical invention ‘cytoplasmic hybrid’; the term has been created specifically to befog us.
Attempts to diminish the significance of the animal oocyte are simply very poor science, and the molecular components of the animal egg will dominate early development; certainly up to the time of stem cell derivation when it will be predominantly animal.
The decision at this stage was taken in principle only, and the HFEA will now consider the individual licence applications which they received earlier this year. They promise a decision in that regard in November. There are no prizes for guessing that outcome.
In classic HFEA style they have used obfuscating language, promised that the research will be tightly regulated within very strict limits, and that nothing will be allowed that is not absolutely desirable or necessary.
While most of the rest of the world – where animal/human hybrids are absolutely banned – looks on in perplexed horror, the United Kingdom slips further down the famous slippery slope.