Popular Science and The Associated Press both filed reports on an attempt by British scientists to avoid public backlash against the "ewww factor" involved in some potentially bizarre blending of human and animal DNA. While scientists at Britain's Academy of Medical Sciences recognize that some cutting-edge and necessary research involves injecting human DNA into mice, for example, to work on cures for diseases, there needs to be a governing body to oversee other experiments whose benefit to mankind is not so immediately apparent.
For most experiments, tighter regulation is not needed, writes Martin Bobrow, chairman of the group that wrote the report. "But there are a small number of future experiments, which could approach social and ethically sensitive areas which should have an extra layer of scrutiny," he told reporters in London, the AP reports.
A few examples of these sensitive areas, reports Popular Science: fertilizing human eggs in animals, using human brain cells to alter animal brains or even giving animals human-like speech or facial expressions. Some of these experiments could be perfectly legitimate, but there just needs to be an extra layer of scrutiny over them, the scientists argue.
"Where people begin to worry is when you get to the brain, to the germ (reproductive) cells, and to the sort of central features that help us recognize what is a person, like skin texture, facial shape and speech," Bobrow said.