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Promoting creation of human-animal hybrids

July 22, 2006

Re "Hurray for monkey-man!" Opinion, July 17

David P. Barash's support for the ability of geneticists and developmental biologists to create a human-chimp hybrid is an incredible example of shortsighted hubris, failing to note critical distinctions between the mating of pre-chimps and pre-humans a few million years ago and their creation by humans alone in the lab.

The desire or outcome of creating a possibly intellectually inferior species apparently is not mentioned, and, of course, Barash similarly does not ask the question of the status of these creatures, emotionally or legally.

Before the excitement of disproving religious belief as a motivation for such a creation -- as science is close to fulfilling the desire to create such hybrids -- perhaps society should discuss the incredibly important ethical, moral, social and legal consequences of such an action before allowing the science to proceed.

DEBRA GREENFIELD

Fellow, Institute on Biotechnology

and the Human Future

Malibu

*

Barash promotes the creation of human-animal hybrids as a way of dispossessing mankind of the myth of the "discontinuity between human beings and other life forms." But this discontinuity is not a myth, as evidenced by Barash's own essay. A human being is the only life form that would reason its way to an opinion, prepare an argument, dress it in appealing language and publish it as an Op-Ed article.

If Barash's human-animal hybrid uses speech to persuade its peers, this creature would be a person, even if not a human, and if it does not use speech, it would be an animal, regardless of its genetic lineage.

PETER MARSTON

Professor of Communication Studies

Cal State Northridge

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