Human-Animal Hybrids Prohibition Act Introduced in Congress

quote11.jpg Senators Sam Brownback (R-Kan) and Mary Landrieu (D-La) introduced the Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act to Congress last week that would make outlaws of scientists that create part human, part animal beings. According to a white paper published by Friends of the Earth, “A human-animal hybrid is an organism with both human and animal genetic material.” These hybrids are apparently dangerous to both human health and the environment, and could change ecosystems in unprecedented ways (somewhat alarmist, wouldn’t you say?).

If passed, this bill would have major impacts on basic science research (covered nicely by Brandon Keim at Wired). Important for industry; the definitions in the bill (see below) have been thought through sufficiently to not cover animal safety and efficacy studies that are required by the FDA for IND data packages. If all human material (eg. stem cells) being placed into animals were outlawed, it would bring the regenerative medicine industry to a halt. This is not the case at this time though.

While this is likely not another Galileo Affair, it is not unprecedented for similar legislation to make it through in other countries. Maybe it is time to follow the lead of our colleagues in England and do more public outreach to educate the masses on stem cells research and technology.

Senators Brownback and Landrieu do have more specific definitions of which ‘hybrids’ would violate the ‘LAW’, and what the punishment would be – see below:


    This Act may be cited as the `HumanAnimalHybrid Prohibition Act of 2007′.


    Congress finds that–
    • (1) advances in research and technology have made possible the creation of humananimal hybrids;
    • (2) humananimal hybrids are grossly unethical because they blur the line between human and animal , male and female, parent and child, and one individual and another individual;
    • (3) human dignity and the integrity of the human species are compromised by humananimal hybrids;
    • (4) the uniqueness of individual human beings is manifested in a particular way through their brain and their reproductive organs/cells; and
    • (5) with an increase in emerging zoonotic infection threatening the global public health, humananimal hybrids present a particularly optimal means of genetic transfers that could increase the efficiency or virulence of diseases threatening both humans and animals.



`Sec. 1131. Definitions

    `In this chapter the following definitions apply:
    • `(1) HUMANANIMAL HYBRID – The term `humananimal hybrid’ means–
      • `(A) a human embryo into which a non-human cell or cells (or the component parts thereof) have been introduced to render the embryo’s membership in the species Homo sapiens uncertain;
      • `(B) a hybrid human /animal embryo produced by fertilizing a human egg with non-human sperm;
      • `(C) a hybridhuman /animal embryo produced by fertilizing a non-human egg with human sperm;
      • `(D) an embryo produced by introducing a non-human nucleus into a human egg;
      • `(E) an embryo produced by introducing a human nucleus into a non-human egg;
      • `(F) an embryo containing at least haploid sets of chromosomes from both a human and a non-human life form;
      • `(G) a non-human life form engineered such that human gametes develop within the body of a non-human life form; or
      • `(H) a non-human life form engineered such that it contains a human brain or a brain derived wholly or predominantly from human neural tissues.
    • `(2) HUMAN EMBRYO- The term `human embryo’ means an organism of the species Homo sapiens during the earliest stages of development, from 1 cell up to 8 weeks.

`Sec. 1132. Prohibition on humananimal hybrids

`(b) Penalties-

    • `(1) IN GENERAL- Whoever violates subsection (a) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.
    • `(2) CIVIL PENALTY- Whoever violates subsection (a) and derives pecuniary gain from such violation shall be subject to a civil fine of the greater of $1,000,000 and an amount equal to the amount of the gross gain multiplied by 2.’.

I have a friend who scored a Congressional Fellowship to be a science adviser on Capital Hill, and when I asked him what he thought about the bill he quipped “What can I say, not all offices have science fellows.”


About jrowley

This blog is about the technology behind Regenerative Medicine - including, but not limited to, stem cells therapies, biomaterial-based devices, as well as tissue engineered products. My name is Jon Rowley. I have been in the Regenerative Medicine field since 1994 (undergraduate research), and have my PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan in Biomedical Engineering. I am currently an employee of Aastrom Biosciences, an adult autologous cell therapy company. You can see my professional creds at: Important Note: Absolutely everything posted in this blog is my personal opinion and is in no way the opinion of my employer, Aastrom Biosciences, or approved by anyone before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.
This entry was posted in ethics, politics, regulatory, stem cells. Bookmark the permalink.

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