Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren Voted Against Human-Animal Hybrid Ban This Year

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2021/08/03/ed-markey-and-elizabeth-warren-voted-against-human-animal-hybrid-ban-this-year/

Should scientists try to mix humans with other animals?

An attempt in the U.S. Senate to prevent that from happening failed earlier this year. Every Democrat voted against it, including the two from Massachusetts: U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-Malden) and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Cambridge).

The U.S. Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) (S.1260) in June. The bill authorizes $110 billion for research and development over the next five years in areas such as artificial intelligence, semiconductors, and quantum computing, as Federal News Network reports. It passed 68-32.

While the bill passed with members of both sides of the aisle supporting it, one amendment to the bill got what amounted to a party-line vote. 

The amendment aimed to outlaw many different types of human-animal hybrids. Some examples include:  “a human embryo into which a nonhuman cell or cells (or the component parts thereof) have been introduced to render the embryo’s membership in the species Homo sapiens uncertain”; “a human-animal embryo produced by fertilizing a human egg with nonhuman sperm”; “a human-animal embryo produced by fertilizing a nonhuman egg with human sperm”; and “nonhuman life form engineered such that it exhibits human facial features or other bodily morphologies to resemble human features.”

It was Amendment 1771 to Amendment No. 1502 of the bill, and it came from U.S. Senator Mike Braun (R-Indiana).

“Human life is distinct and sacred, and research that creates an animal-human hybrid or transfers a human embryo into an animal womb or vice versa should be completely prohibited, and engaging in such unethical experiments should be a crime,” Braun told Fox News in May.

The Senate rejected Braun’s anti-hybrid amendment on May 26, with 48 voting in favor and 49 opposing.

Three senators didn’t vote on the amendment:  Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee). Of the 97 who did vote, all Republicans voted in favor of these restrictions, while every Democrat opposed them.

If adopted, the amendment would have threatened violators with a fine of up to $1 million or “the amount equal to twice the amount of the gross pecuniary gain.” Violators would have also faced a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

While human-animal hybrids may sound like something out of science-fiction, such experiments do exist.

For example, a team of scientists from the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California injected human stem cells into monkey embryos earlier this year. The organisms survived for up to 20 days in Petri dishes, as Newsweek reported.

In addition to the human-monkey hybrid, the Salk Institute created a human-pig hybrid in 2017. This process involved injecting human stem cells into more than 150 pig embryos. The embryos developed for 28 days before being terminated, according to The Guardian.

Supporters of these tests say that they could use the process to create transplantable organs in the future, according to Stat News

It’s unclear if that’s the position that Markey and Warren take, however. Neither has ever made a public statement on the issue, and their press offices could not be reached on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday last week.


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