Wednesday, November 27, 2002

WHAT IS HUMAN?

huMouseTM
A design for creatures that are half man, half animal has raised fundamental questions about what it means to be human. Two critics of biotechnology want the U.S. Patent Office to answer them.
By Dashka Slater

...Five years ago, he submitted a patent application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a chimera, a creature that would be made by melding human and animal embryos. Concoctions included the huMouse, a mixture of man and mouse; the humanzee, a cross between a human and chimpanzee; and blends of human with pig and human with baboon. The chimeras—named after the mythical Greek monster with a goat's body, a lion's head, and a serpent's tail—could potentially be used to study embryonic development, raise organs for transplants, or test new drugs.

The chimeras' real purpose, however, is their shock value. If the notion of human-ape half-breeds rising from the laboratory makes your stomach churn and your mind reel, then the monsters are serving their creator's subversive goals....

...by applying for a patent the pair hopes to prevent anyone else from making one....