I normally grumble when the Today Programme interrupts its current affairs with "Thought for the Day". But I listened to Rev. Dr. Allan Billings' contribution on 31st March with increasing interest.
He adopts the same position as I do. In a short paragraph below, he demolished the idea that Cardinal O'Brien and other members of the Catholic Church were peddling over Easter . They cannot discriminate between the few cells of an embryo and a mature human life.
"The objection to creating embryos is on the grounds that an embryo is a human life and should be accorded the same rights as mature human life. I find this unconvincing. To treat a microscopic bundle of cells as if it were a mature human being seems to me to be a failure in discrimination. An acorn may be a potential oak tree, but there is a difference between the two."
This is an important issue. But it seems that the debate is being conducted with little or no knowledge of what actually is being proposed- what those scientists at Newcastle University are up to.
The best starting point is the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's (HFEA) booklet " Hybrids and Chimeras available from their website here (in pdf 880kb).
Whatever your view, the idea that human/animal embryos will create "Frankenstein"or some other kind of monster is just plain nonsense. Within eight pages of the HFEA's booklet the science is described in fairly straightforward language. As a non-scientist, I even ended up with a basic understanding of the difference between mitochondrial and nuclear DNA!