Experimenting may see birth of human-chimp hybrid 'humanzee', warns scientist

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London, Apr 28 : Scientists have bred 'ligers', the world's largest cats by breeding lions with tigers, 'zorses' by doing the same with zebra and horses, and 'zonkeys' by breeding zebra and donkeys. Now, a leading scientist has warned that unless the UK government lays boundaries to such experimenting, the day may not be far away when the world may see 'humanzees', the offspring of humans and chimps.

Dr Calum MacKellar, director of research at the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, has warned that since the draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill does prevent animals being inseminated with human sperm, scientists could soon be experimenting with breeding a hybrid of humans and apes.

"Nobody knows what they would get if they tried hard enough. The insemination of animals with human sperm should be prohibited," The Scotsman quoted him, as saying.

"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.

"If you put human sperm into a frog it would probably create an embryo, but it probably wouldn't go very far.

"But if you do it with a non-human primate it's not beyond the realms of possibility that it could be born alive."

Other leading boffins have stated that there is no reason why the two species could not breed, and Dr MacKellar warns that they may try to develop the hybrid in order to fill the 'desperate need' for organ donors.

He added that fascination alone would be enough to make scientists experiment with inseminating chimps with human sperm.

"There's a desperate need for organs....If they could create these humanzees who are substantially human but are not considered as humans in law , we could have a large provision of organs," he said.

He also disagrees with the Department of Health's stand that such a crossing would be 'impossible', saying: "The chromosomal difference between a goat and a sheep is greater than between humans and chimpanzees."

ANI

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