Doc. 10716

11 October 2005

Embryonic, Foetal and Post-natal Animal-Human Mixtures

Motion for a resolution

presented by Mr Wodarg and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it

1.       The Council of Europe has already addressed a wide range of ethical problems that arise with regard to the application of biology and medicine in order to protect the dignity and identity of all human beings and guarantee everyone, without discrimination, respect for their integrity and other rights and fundamental freedoms. European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (ETS No. 164).

2.       The Council of Europe has also defined basic principles for animal welfare in its European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals (ETS No. 125).

3.       The Assembly states that most international conventions only address either human or non-human beings but have not yet examined animal-human mixtures. In most countries no guidelines exist which specifically address this matter.

4.       Although no evidence of any entities being born has been recorded so far, the developments in crossing the species barriers may no longer limit animal-human mixtures to the domain of mythology. Indeed, procedures have recently been developed by scientists which mix human and animal biological elements to such an extent that it challenges the very concept of being entirely human.

5.       Animal-human mixtures could result from the following procedures: the placing of a live human embryo into an animal; the placing of a live human sperm into an animal; the placing of a live animal embryo into a woman; the placing of a live animal sperm into a woman; the mixing of animal and human gametes; the insertion of a human cell nucleus or chromosomes into a non-human egg enabling an embryo to exist; the insertion of a human cell nucleus or chromosomes into an non-human egg stripped of its chromosomes enabling an embryo to exist; the creation of animal-human transgenic animals; the transplantation of animal cells, tissues or organs in a human person (xenotransplantation).

6.       Since it is not yet proven that pluripotent cells cannot contribute to the germline or give rise to “higher-order” brain functions in the animal, mixtures could also be the result if human pluripotent cells were incorporated into post-natal animals or into post-blastocyst stages of non-human embryos and as well in the case of the incorporation of non-human pluripotent cells into post-blastocyst stages of human embryos.

7.       The Assembly invites the governments of the member states to initiate an extensive consultation and reflection relating to the complex ethical questions arising from the creation of animal-human mixtures.

8.       The Assembly wants to table its own recommendations concerning animal-human mixtures in order to evaluate the scientific facts, general ethical arguments, different risks and social consequences.

9.       The Assembly recommends to the Committee of Ministers to entrust the Steering Committee on Bioethics of the Council of Europe to address the ethical issues arising from the creation of animal-human mixtures as soon as possible in a recommendation and/or to insert this task into the ongoing work on additional protocols to the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine.

Signed 1:

WODARG, Wolfgang, Germany, SOC

AUSTIN, John, United Kingdom, SOC

ČURDOVÁ, Anna, Czech Republic, SOC

de ZULUETA, Tana, Italy, SOC

GAJDŮŠKOVÁ, Alena, Czech Republic, SOC

IWIŃSKI, Tadeusz, Poland, SOC

KUŽVART, Miloš, Czech Republic, SOC

LACHNIT, Petr, Czech Republic, SOC

LLOYD, Tony, United Kingdom, SOC

McCAFFERTY, Chris, United Kingdom, SOC

MENDONÇA, Ana Catarina, Portugal, SOC

RUPPRECHT, Marlene, Germany, SOC

STEENBLOCK, Rainder, Germany, SOC

1        SOC: Socialist Group

      EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party

      ALDE: Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

      EDG: European Democratic Group

      UEL: Group of the Unified European Left

      NR: not registered in a group