Film 4 has been repeating some of the Planet of the Apes films – including Beneath the planet of the apes (not bad), and Conquest of the planet of the apes (not good). As we know these films are public information films designed to warn humankind about the ape threat.
We, who have long warned of the imminent takeover of our planet by the afficionados of Dr Zaius, were greeted with an alarming headline in this morning’s Scotsman:
“Half man, half chimp – should we beware the apeman’s coming?”
This latest ape based threat – after trouncing our students in memory tests – is apparently from the draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.
This features comments from leading scientist Dr Calum MacKellar (the director of research at the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics “an independent, non-partisan, non-religious Scottish charity composed of doctors, lawyers, psychologists, ethicists and other professionals from disciplines associated with medical ethics” – although on that self-description see the Ministry of Truth here and here).
So who is Dr McKellar, head honcho at this independent non-partisan, non-religious charity?
Well, he has been a speaker at the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child Scotland conference. He has an interesting website with a collection of interesting publications including one on the medical reasons behind homosexuality. He writes for the Christian Medical Fellowship criticising the Church of Scotland for not taking a sufficiently Christian position in relation to cloning (criticising the atheists on a Church working party), contributed an article on “Creation, co-creation and the ethics of cloning” to the Scottish Order of Christian Unity. He was also a Lib Dem candidate in Edinburgh East in 1997.
According to The Scotsman Dr MacKellar warns
“the controversial draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill did not prevent human sperm being inseminated into animals. He said if a female chimpanzee was inseminated with human sperm the two species would be closely enough related that a hybrid could be born.”
“The Human Fertilisation and Embryo Bill prohibits the placement of animal sperm into a woman The reverse is not prohibited. It’s not even mentioned. This should not be the case.”
Men impregnating animals? Hybrids? Humanzees or chimpanans?
Now, Dr MacKellar has form for this sort of thing (by which I mean scaremongering about human hybrids, not impregnating animals – he petitioned the Scottish PArliament warning of the dangers) – although this seems to have passed The Scotsman by, as does his professional and religious background, which would at least give readers some sort of idea as to the slant of his views.
ANyway, lest we believe that Dr MAcKellar is merely flying kites to terrify the public with thoughts of “First Born” – where Charles Dance made a gorilla human hybrid disguised in polite society at Greystoke Castle (not true) and named Gor (perhaps Dr MAcKellar was the scientific adviser to the show) Dr MacKellar will no doubt explain whoo would do such a thing?
The Scotsman reports,
“He said if the process was not banned, scientists would be “very likely” to try it, and it would be likely humans and chimps could successfully reproduce.” and “fascination would be enough of a motive for scientists to try crossing the two species.”
Scientists try things that aren’t banned? But how far would they go, these irresponsible scientists.
“If you put human sperm into a frog it would probably create an embryo, but it probably wouldn’t go very far,”
[probably down to the little legs – unless they find some way to make them proportionate in size, and they could do unless it’s banned expressly, after all that’s what science is all about]
So where do others stand?
“Professor Bob Millar, director of the Medical Research Council Human Reproductive Sciences Unit, based in Edinburgh, agreed viable offspring would be possible. He said: “Donkeys can mate with horses and create infertile offspring; maybe that could happen with chimpanzees.” But he said he would oppose any such attempt. “It’s unnecessary and ridiculous and no serious scientist would consider such a thing. Ethically, it’s not appropriate. “It’s also completely impractical. Chimps would never be a source of organs for humans because of the viruses they carry and the low numbers.””
And, any embryo research in the UK requires the consent of the Human Fertilisation and Embryo Authority…
Less bothered about matters is Professor Hugh McLachlan, professor of applied philosophy at Glasgow Caledonian University’s School of Law and Applied Sciences. He is reported as saying,
“If it turns out in the future there was fertilisation between a human animal and a non-human animal, it’s an idea that is troublesome, but in terms of what particular ethical principle is breached it’s not clear to me. I share their squeamishness and unease, but I’m not sure that unease can be expressed in terms of an ethical principle.”
So, after wasting an entire page on Dr MacKellar’s Charles Dance inspired fantasies I hope The Scotsman have persuaded the government to take things seriously
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “It’s just not a problem. If you inseminate an animal with human sperm, scientifically nothing happens. [there speaks the voice of experience] The species barriers are too great.”
Although reading the comments on the Scotsman website I wonder if it’s happened already.