Just Say No to Human-Monkey Chimeras

Brendan Foht
The editor of the New Atlantis writes a thought-provoking essay about what he perceives as a lack of limits in biomedical research, expressing concern for research on human-monkey chimeras, and by extension, the 14-day rule of embryo culture. Among the topics that the author takes issue with are the establishment of limits and scientific self-regulation, suggesting that society should not place too much trust on scientists to act responsibly and that strong limits should be put in place. If the 14-day rule can be extended as new research becomes available, what can ensure that the promise of novel therapies will not be used to further move boundaries in the future? Considering the 14-day rule as flexible suggests a lack of commitment and engagement with moral agreements from scientists. The author praises George W. Bush’s ban on federal funding for stem cell research for establishing clear limits on research and suggests that the policy served to steer the agenda of stem cell research toward alternatives (such as pluripotent stem cells) and force scientists to take ethical arguments seriously. The essay finishes asking who is charged with the responsibility of governing science’s growing power.