The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Monday, July 05, 2004

PATENTED CHIMERAS
Something about gene splicing is fundamentally unsettling for people. The notion of "playing God" in such a technological, untraditional way brings lots of reservations, mainly over how such tinkering would bring unmanagable consequences.

It's enough of a morass that the U.S. Patent Office is currently withholding approval of man-made chimeras, the results of splicing two sets of animal genes to produce creatures with the characteristics of both originating beasts.

The synopsis linked here gives you the broad details. The full article gives several more tidbits, including specific examples of chimeras like the geep (a goat-sheep mix). It also delves into the moral issue of mixing human genetic material with other species, and what sort of status the resulting creature would have (mixing human and dog genomes doesn't necessarily make a human animal, but mixing human and ape genomes very well might).

All the implications are scary enough to make the choosing of the mythical chimera as a symbol for these real-life Franken-beasts appropriate. It's less appropriate for NHL player Jason Chimera to come to mind; nothing particularly scary about him.