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Clones may face ?rabbit' opposition - Clay Wilson

Have people learned nothing from science fiction movies?

Apparently, judging from the news out of China last week. I realize this is the second column on this subject to appear in our paper this week; but because I'm not afraid to be unoriginal, I'd like to submit my own take on the subject of human rabbits, or rabbit humans – however this potential brave new species would be designated.

For those who may not have heard, it was reported last week that scientists in China had successfully produced embryos from crossing eggs from animals with DNA from humans. Specifically, these modern-day Drs. Frankenstein fused human DNA with rabbit eggs and allowed the resulting embryos to grow for several days before destroying them.

Although this was not the first time that animal eggs have been scrambled with human DNA, it was the first time that embryos have been successfully produced.

In life as nature intended it, embryos result when a sperm cell impregnates an egg cell. In life in the lab, apparently embryos can result when scientists throw together an egg cell and DNA from any other old cell they happen to scrape off the floor and apply the proper amount of electricity.

There are, of course, the myriad moral and ethical questions that arise from the concept of creating human-animal hybrids. But aside from those, there are also practical questions that should be considered before anyone decides to let such a hybrid develop and be born.

As we were discussing this topic in the newsroom last week, a colleague remarked something to the effect of "Oh, great: There's another special-interest group we have to worry about."

I realized that she had a point. In today's atmosphere of bending over backward to make sure that every specialized group is ensured its constitutional rights (and even rights that those shortsighted Founding Fathers forgot to include in the Constitution), how long would it take before the human-rabbits began demanding theirs?

Soon, airlines would be forced to upgrade their planes so that the aisles are at least 10 inches taller for the rabbit people's ears.

Toothbrush companies would begin designing special toothbrushes for the human-rabbits' enlarged incisors.

Public schools would be forced to start coating their floors, not just their playgrounds, with 6-inch deep wood shavings. Of course, traditional prohibitions against hopping down the halls would be right out.

Failure to implement such politically correct measures would surely bring swift reprisals from the Human-Rabbit Anti-Defamation Society, which would quickly become one of the most feared lobbying forces in the country because of its members' ability to multiply like – well, rabbits.

It's a frightening scenario, I know – perhaps even scarier than the idea that the race of mutant rabbits would knock humans off the top of the food chain – which is plainly ludicrous.

Admittedly, according to published reports, there is evidence that a hybrid embryo could not develop to term and be born.

But maybe that's exactly what the rabbit people want us to think. And when the majority of homes come furnished with wood shavings and water bottles, I'm going to say, "I told you so."

Clay Wilson is the education and public safety reporter for the Daily Herald. His column appears on Wednesdays. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or by e-mail at cwilson@henryherald.com.