Tyrades! By Danny Tyree

According to Great Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, Britain's scientists "Got some 'splainin' to do."

An 18-month study by the Academy of Medical Sciences reveals troubling ethical issues in the area of genetic modifications of animals. The Daily Mail hypes the report with allegations of the secret creation of human-animal hybrids.

Cam Cardow / Ottawa Citizen (click to view latest cartoons)

Because of a general preoccupation with sports and gossip instead of science, there has been little public outcry over the allegations on the American side of the pond. Typical response: "Human-animal hybrids? Just how far apart are the recharging stations? Can I get OnStar?"

Only certain religious groups seem particularly riled up, declaring, "If God had meant for the lower animals to be privy to all the sordid details of the human condition...he would have given them jobs with Rupert Murdoch."

Most of the experiments are deemed routine and noncontroversial, but the report warns Parliament of three key areas of concern: (1) modifications to animal brains could potentially lead to more human-like cerebral function, (2) research might lead to fertilization of human eggs or sperm in lab animals, and (3) uppity animals might start demanding residuals for their antics on "America's Funniest Home Videos."

Yes, tinkering with the brains, facial features and other aspects of animals may leave us cowering in our Brave New World. San Juan Capistrano will lose much of its charm if the swallows use opposable thumbs to HITCHHIKE for their annual return. Rabbits will strain the resources of Planned Parenthood. "Man's best friend" will turn on him unless pooper scoopers are equipped with built-in bidets.

Animals will inevitably pick up some of the worst traits of humans. I dread the day when ants spend all summer partying with the grasshopper and then spend the winter waiting on their welfare check.

Job interviews for humans will become much more difficult in the new paradigm. ("I see myself as a real people-slash-animal-slash-abnormally-intelligent-zucchini-if-there-is-such-a-thing person!")

The report reassures us that everything will be fine if we can just monitor the experiments properly. I hope this monitoring goes better than in other areas of public safety. ("Yes, Sarah Jessica Parker, I'll run away to Tahiti with you and — Huh? What? A jumbo jet headed straight for the control tower??? What happened to my snooze alarm???")

The report is particularly troubling because many countries have even more lax standards than Britain. These are the countries where one might overhear things such as "Are you sure we aren't supposed to coat the DNA with lead paint?," "Hold my beer while I cannonball into the gene pool," and "Pay no attention to the giant moth eating the man behind the curtain."

Unfortunately, overregulation of human DNA experimentation in animals could impede medical advancements. The experiments have proven invaluable for treatment of cancer, treatment of strokes, treatment of hepatitis, treatment of anemic drug company quarterly reports...

Don't dismiss the world of genetic modification as mere science fiction. Many wonderful and terrible things await us in the near future. Remember: They laughed at Galileo. They laughed at the Wright Brothers. Of course, I'm not sure if they'll laugh at the genetically modified sea gull who decides to launch a stand-up comedy career. ("I just flew in from Poughkeepsie, and boy, are my wings tired! Hello? Is this microphone on?")


©2011 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades". Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns, please email Cari Dawson Bartley at [email protected] or call 800 696 7561.