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On Human Species-altering Technologies

WHEREAS, God created each living species to reproduce according to its kind (Genesis 1:12), prohibiting human-animal reproductive species confusion (Leviticus 18:23); and

WHEREAS, The Creator has ordained that humans exercise morally responsible dominion stewardship over the earth and all its creatures (Genesis 1:26) and calls us to love our neighbor (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31); and

WHEREAS, Medical science is a legitimate and beneficial exercise of dominion stewardship, and Southern Baptists strongly favor work in biotechnology that respects moral boundaries and leads to cures for diseases and disabilities; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists are on record for their unflagging defense of the sanctity of every human life, including opposition to the experimental sacrifice of human embryos for the potential benefit of others; and

WHEREAS, In 2003, Chinese scientists at the Shanghai Second Medical University fused human cells with rabbit eggs, creating animal-human hybrids and Kentucky scientist Panos Zavos created approximately 200 cow-human hybrid embryos; and

WHEREAS, In 2004, researchers at Stanford University introduced human brain cells into mouse fetuses, creating mice with human neural cells; and

WHEREAS, In 2005, the National Academy of Sciences sanctioned the creation of animals in which human embryonic stem cells have been introduced to produce human-animal embryos; and

WHEREAS, In 2006, Ian Wilmut, the cloner of Dolly the sheep, announced that his group at the Roslin Clinic plans to create human-animal hybrids for embryo-destructive research; and

WHEREAS, In his 2006 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush called on Congress “to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research,” including “creating human-animal hybrids”; and

WHEREAS, The creation of human-animal hybrids confuses human-animal species boundaries; and

WHEREAS, Human germline genetic modification (as opposed to somatic cell genetic modification) aims to alter human reproductive cells, therefore altering future generations; and

WHEREAS, Modification of the human germline affects offspring who cannot consent to the alterations, thereby risking harm to innocent human beings without their knowledge or consent; and

WHEREAS, Any technologically-inflicted errors passed from one generation to another could be irreversible and risk producing a generation of malformed human beings, who would pass the genetic defect to the next generation; and

WHEREAS, Many pro-life Christians have already affirmed “The Sanctity of Life in a Brave New World: A Manifesto on Biotechnology and Human Dignity,” which calls for a comprehensive ban “on all human cloning and inheritable genetic modification”; and

WHEREAS, Eighteen countries have ratified and thirteen more have signed the Council of Europe’s “Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and the Dignity of the Human Being With Regard to the Application of Biology and Medicine: Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine” (Art. 13), which affirms that “An intervention seeking to modify the human genome may only be undertaken for preventive, diagnostic or therapeutic purposes and only if its aim is not to introduce any modification in the genome of any descendants”; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, repudiate in strongest possible terms human species-altering technologies; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we oppose efforts at human-animal hybridization, specifically any attempts to mix human and animal gametes (sperm and egg) or implanting human embryos in animal wombs and vice versa; and be it further

RESOLVED, That while we support attempts at human somatic cell gene therapy for serious genetic illnesses if proper regard is given to informed consent, safety, efficacy, and the just allocation of available resources, we oppose any biotechnology that results in blurring the human-animal species barrier, such as the implantation of human brain cells into mice; and be it further

RESOLVED, That while we support the use of simple gene transfer from humans to animals for drug production (e.g., human insulin, human growth hormone, clotting factor VIII) and therapeutic human-animal technologies such as the use of pig heart valves in humans, we oppose any human germline genetic modification that results in the destruction of human embryos or their equivalent (e.g., totipotential cells); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we cannot endorse any use of human germline modification at this time, no matter how well-intentioned, due to the unpredictability of the process and the possible introduction of irreversible destructive errors into the human gene pool; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we urge the members of both Houses of the United States Congress to pass as soon as possible a comprehensive ban on all human species-altering technologies, including the creation of animal-human hybrids and human germline genetic modification, given the current state of the unpredictability of the process and the possibility of the introduction of irreversible destructive errors into the human gene pool.