Georgia Rep. Tom Kirby is taking the lead on the pressing issue of human/jellyfish hybrids
image via (cc) flickr user simongoez
Most people, no matter how many times they've read The Island of Doctor Moreau, have more pressing things to worry about than whether or not researchers could eventually augment human physiology with that of, say, a phosphorescent jellyfish. For one Georgia state lawmaker, though, the prospect of human/jellyfish cloning is so troublesome that he’s introduced legislation banning the practice long (long) before anyone (at all) even considers trying it in the first place.
Tom Kirby, who represents Georgia’s 114th district, recently introduced HB 287, the "Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act," into the Georgia legislature. The bill, were it to pass, would make it illegal for:
...any person or entity to intentionally or knowingly create or attempt to create an in vitro human embryo by any means other than fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm
As Kirby told local news station WSB-TV, this has “nothing to do with invitro [sic] fertilization or medical research.” He explains his reasoning for the bill on his website, under the subject line “Issues of 2015”:
Ethical treatment of Embryos
We in Georgia are taking the lead on this issue. Human life at all stages is precious including as an embryo. We need to get out in front of the science and technology, before it becomes something no one wants. The mixing of Human Embryos with Jellyfish cells to create a glow in the dark human, we say not in Georgia. This bill is about protecting Human life while maintaining good, valid research that does not destroy life.
Kirby doubled down his illuminating claim when asked by WSB-TV’s Lori Geary what the purpose of a mixing human and jellyfish DNA might be, replying “To make them glow in the dark is the only thing I know of.”
image via (cc) flickr user audiolucistore
Scientists have been able to splice jellyfish DNA with that of other animals, such as mice or cats, producing a glowing effect, but it seems that not even Kirby can pinpoint that same technique being applied to human beings, much less to ones residing in his home state. When asked by Geary whether the type of research opposed in HB 287 is happening within Georgia, Kirby admitted "I've had people tell me it is but I have not verified that for sure."
Currently HB 287 has five additional co-signers. Not among them is Kirby’s legislative colleague Vincent Fort, who described the proposed law as “a waste of precious time, when we could be dealing with issues like transportation, education and jobs."
Banning phosphorescent people, or creating jobs and fostering education? Georgia, the choice is yours.