NIH prepares to lift ban on experimental research that could create animals with part-human brains, consciousness

Tuesday, August 9, 2016
By Paul Martin

by: Isabelle Z.
Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The government has announced that it plans to lift the moratorium on funding experiments that make use of human stem cells to make animal embryos with human qualities, despite previously expressing concerns about these highly controversial procedures.

The moratorium was put in place in September over ethical concerns, but the new policy will allow scientists to make such embryos, known as chimera, with federal funding under certain circumstances.

Scientists are hoping to create animal models of diseases that affect humans using these embryos, which they believe could help them develop new ways to treat these illnesses. Another goal is to create pigs, cows and sheep that have human hearts, livers, kidneys and other organs to use for human transplants.

However, the ethical concerns remain. For example, what if scientists inadvertently (or intentionally) create animals with part-human brains, giving them human consciousness and thinking abilities? What if these animals end up with human eggs and sperm and breed, creating human embryos inside of animals or other hybrid creatures?

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