Chimera Culture

So do chimeras bother me? Heck no. Do ligers or tions bother me? I actually think they’re pretty cool. To be able to combine discrete characteristics of species is a dream of science. It’s important to preface this argument for chimeras in modern culture that the science has not caught yet caught up with the ideas. So it’s sort of a good thing we’re talking about it now.

Any understanding of chimeras in modern scientific culture needs to be sure that it is defining its terms properly. How averse or in favor of chimeras we as a society are is somewhat dependent on what we include in the definition. For instance, most modern genetically modified organism: plants. You like American corn? Congratulations, you’re eating a chimera. Or consider clementines, grapples, and other hybrid fruits. Americans consistently reap the culinary benefits of chimeras in the plant world.

It appears then, we are not averse to chimeras from a fundamental perspective, but perhaps it is in specific application to animal chimeras? For instance, is the Vacanti mouse an example of a chimera? Although it caused outrage at the time, it certainly was a proof-of-concept of the legitimacy and potential benefits of interspecies grafting for both science and medicine. For more practical examples of chimeras producing real medical results, you only need to look to the bioproduction of insulin. Diabetics seem to enjoy their E.coli insulin which is made by inserting human plasmids into the bacterium.
I think that the aversion to chimeras in modern culture seems to be largely concentrated on changes we can see in animals. I believe that the more Americans educate themselves on the medical and biomedical engineering benefits of producing chimeras, the more they will come to accept the medical and scientific benefits of chimeras in modern culture. There does seem to be an implicit ethical line with chimeras, but so far science has shown itself to exhibit more restraint than we as a society give it credit for.

-Eric D.

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~ by HV on March 4, 2010.

One Response to “Chimera Culture”

  1. […] To be able to combine discrete characteristics of species is a dream of science. [Genetics and Literature] […]

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