NIH PROPOSES TAXPAYER-FUNDED RESEARCH ON ANIMAL-HUMAN CHIMERAS
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Last Updated Date: 
09/06/2016

PUBLIC COMMENTS NEEDED 
 

Your help is needed to defend the dignity of human life and there is a limited time to act. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a federally-funded medical research agency, is soliciting comments from the public through Tuesday, September 6, 2016 on an important life issue, the creation of human-animal chimeras. Comments must be submitted before midnight (Eastern) on September 6. Please read the directions below carefully to submit comments online.

On August 4, 2016 the NIH announced that it plans to lift its moratorium on funding research that involves injecting human embryonic stem cells into animal embryos thus creating part-human and part-animal organisms known as chimeras. This means that, for the first time, the Federal government will begin spending taxpayer dollars on the creation and manipulation of new beings whose very existence blurs the line between humans and non-human animals. 

This research is ethically problematic for several reasons: 1) It relies on the killing of humans at the embryonic stage to harvest their stem cells;  2) It involves the production of animals that could have partly or substantially human brains; 3) It involves the production of animals that could have human sperm or eggs (with a stipulation that precautions are taken so such animals are not allowed to breed); 4) It allows the introduction of human embryonic stem cells into animal embryos early in their development such that it may be very difficult to know the extent to which human cells contribute to the final organism.  Consequently, researchers won't know what their moral obligations may be toward that being.  Tragically, the NIH has apparently given little, if any, consideration to these or any other ethical concerns with regard to this research. 

Recommended actions to take immediately: 

  • Submit your comments today using the NIH online comment form with the following steps: 
    • Copy the suggested message below to your clipboard and paste it into the first large box on the NIH form. To copy, please move your mouse cursor to the first letter of the message; in this case the letter "I". Once there, click your left mouse button and hold while dragging the mouse down the page until you get to the end of the message then release your left mouse button. Now that the message text has been highlighted, you may hold down your left CTRL Key and press the letter "C" to copy.
    • You may then go to the NIH form (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/rfi/rfi.cfm?ID=57) and click your left mouse button inside the first large blank text box where you will see your cursor blinking. You may then hold your left CTRL button once again then click the letter "V" to paste the message in the box. For those that are on a Apple (Mac) computer, follow the same instructions as above but use the command key instead of the CTRL button for both the copy and paste functions.
    • Once you have pasted the message into the first large text box, please enter your name in the first box and then scroll down the form page, skipping over all other blank boxes, until you get to the bottom of the page and see the red text asking you to insert a code number for security purposes. Please enter the code that is showing next to the box and once done, you can scroll down a little farther and click the SUBMIT button. You do not need to fill in the Name or Type of Organization or Function areas of the form. ​
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  • REMEMBER COMMENTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY MIDNIGHT (EST) TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6. 

Suggested Message: 

I object strongly to the NIH's proposal to rescind its moratorium on funding of human-animal chimeras.  I do not want my tax dollars being used for grossly unethical research involving the creation and manipulation of part-human, part-animal beings whose very existence blurs the line between humans and non-human animals.  This proposed research raises all the ethical problems of human embryonic stem cell research in general and serious additional problems related to the creation of human-animal beings with partly or substantially human brains and/or human gametes. 

I also object strongly to the NIH's apparent lack of consideration for the ethical issues implicated by this research.  Indeed, the NIH pledged to "undertake a deliberative process to evaluate the state of the science in this area, the ethical issues that should be considered, and the relevant animal welfare concerns associated with these types of studies" when the moratorium was put in place in 2015. Yet, to date there is no evidence of any discussion of the ethical issues involved in creating partly human animals.  

At a minimum, the NIH should give far more serious consideration to the significant ethical problems associated with this research before seeking to fund human-animal chimera research.