Friday, November 23, 2007

Genetic Ambiguity

I was reading this article about James Thomson who pioneered stem cell research and has now developed a technique for using viruses to introduce genes into skin cells to turn them back into stem cells. This is some profound stuff and he brings up some some really confounding scenarios. So what happens if you inject human stem cells into a rats brain and the brain develops human tissue? Is this creature subject to the same religious and constitutional rights as us? How about if it's just one gene like if a pig is cultivated with a human ant-diabetic gene? What is the threshold at which these creatures acquire human rights? How about the other way around, if you grow body parts in vitro, at what point do these parts be qualified as human?

And what about those plants with animal genes? Very tasty stuff.

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