Many scientists, drunk with the euphoria of treading where no human has dared go before, are plunging headlong into lines of research that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. In addition to arcane knowledge, they have also acquired a dangerous elitist attitude.
This philosophy has destroyed all limits, so that now the rule is, quite simply, if it can be done, it must be done, and damn the consequences. For example, if researchers continue along current lines of inquiry, it will soon be possible for a woman to conceive and bear her own (younger) identical twin sister; it will be possible to allow human embryos to gestate in apes of various species (or even in bovines) in order to bypass the legal barriers now springing up against surrogate motherhood.
One of the truly horrific spectres that now haunt society include the invention of actual chimeras, genetic combinations with both human and animal characteristics. These represent a new (and, according to the experimenters, 'extremely promising') field of study. The new chimeral technology is already being widely used to test male fertility. According to the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) of the United States Congress, men can learn whether or not their sperm are infertile by having them penetrate hamster eggs:
"Hamster-egg penetration assay: The husband's sperm are incubated with hamster eggs and watched for signs of fertilisation. While penetration of the ova by a sperm is a sign of normal sperm, the reliability and significance of the test is controversial. Food for thought: conception between an animal and a man takes place during this laboratory procedure. Average cost: $275 ($35-390).
Office of Technology Assessment, United States Congress. Infertility: Medical and Social Choices. Publication OTA-BA-358. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, May 1988
San Francisco General Hospital's Dr. J. Michael McCune has created what the news media immediately tagged the "humanised mouse." McCune was unwilling to experiment with the AIDS virus by injecting it into human adults, and, in light of the fact that AIDS only infects humans, he took what would seem to some as a logical step. An October 1990 New York Times report explains that "Animals, whose organ tissues are derived from those of human foetuses, provide a singular opportunity to gauge the effectiveness of various antiviral drugs."
Sandra Blakeslee. New Medical Research Tool: Human Tissues in Lab Mice. New York Times, 30/10/1990
The article went on to describe how McCune, whose research was funded by the National Institutes for Health, removes the thymus, liver, and lymph nodes from aborted human babies of up to 22 weeks gestation, and proceeds to divide them into hundreds of rice-sized pieces. These he implants under the kidneys of young mice, and, within a matter of days, the mouses's blood vessels move into the human tissue and support it as it grows. After a month or so, the rice-sized pieces develop into tiny complete human organs about a centimeter across which can then be experimented on.
The noted French biologist Dr. Jean Rostand wrote in all seriousness a few years ago that "Here and now Homo Sapiens is in the process of becoming Homo Biologicus, a strange biped that will combine the properties of self-reproduction without males, like the green fly; of fertilising his female at long distance, like the nautiloid mollusk; of changing sex, like the xiphores; of growing from cuttings, like the earthworm; of replacing his missing parts, like the newt; of developing outside his mother's body, like the kangaroo; and of hibernating, like the hedgehog."
These are not the mad pipe dreams of some isolated quack. Many leading scientists have advocated the creation of chimeras - part-human and part-animal or plant creatures whose usefulness for various purposes would be enhanced by their new 'qualities.'
Dr. Robert C. Gesteland, an associate professor of biological sciences at Northwestern University in Illinois, has suggested (1) crossing man with plants, so all we'd need for food would be water and sunlight; (2) developing a servant class of supersmart apes; and (3) best of all, breeding a race of humans only four inches tall, which would lessen pollution and conserve natural resources.
On the 4th December 2014, the Telegraph ran with a news story that detailed how scientists had taken brain cells from a human foetus (then discarded) and injected them into baby mice and subsequently produced what they were calling a supermouse.