By John-Henry Westen

WASHINGTON, DC, April 25, 2008 ( – Yesterday, Rep. Chris Smith introduced the Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act, H.R. 5910, to ban the creation of part-human, part-animal hybrid beings. The legislation is timely as researchers are already tinkering with human-animal hybrid technologies. British scientists are actively perfecting the hybrid technique. On April 1, 2008 the BBC reported that, “Scientists at Newcastle University have created part-human, part-animal hybrid embryos for the first time in the UK.”

  The Act places a ban on the creation, transfer, or transportation of a human-animal hybrid. Human-animal hybrids are defined as:

  1) A human embryo into which animal cells are introduced, making its humanity uncertain.
  2a) An embryo created by fertilizing a human egg with non-human sperm.
  2b) An embryo created by fertilizing a non-human egg with human sperm.
  3a) An embryo created by introducing a non-human nucleus into a human egg.
  3b) An embryo created by introducing a human nucleus into a non-human egg.
  4) An embryo containing mixed sets of chromosomes from both a human and animal.
  5) An animal with human reproductive organs.
  6) An animal with a whole or predominantly human brain.

  The matter is not only of interest to pro-life advocates. Environmental activists and those concerned for public health also have reasons to seek a ban on such experimentation. 

  From a public health standpoint, a backgrounder on the legislation points out that “The world has recently experienced an increase in infections emerging from animal populations that threaten human health. Human-animal hybrids present an optimal opportunity for genetic transfer that could increase the risk for transmission of both human and animal diseases, such as Bird Flu and SARS.”

  Environmental advocates have also pointed out that genetically modified hybrids could have a devastating effect on the natural environments of native animal populations. The introduction of human genetics could lead to hybrids with superior abilities who could “out-compete” the native populations, causing unforeseen problems to the ecosystem.