Injecting Human Genetic Material into Fetal Monkeys
Researchers at the Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Germany and the Central Institute for Experimental Animals in Japan injected ARHGAP11B, a human-specific gene not normally present in monkeys, into the dark matter of marmoset monkey fetuses. They concluded that the monkeys’ brains became more human-like by developing larger, more advanced neocortexes. The study was published in the journal Science.
The neocortex makes up the brain’s outer shell and accounts for nearly 75% of its total size. It is involved in higher-order brain functions such as sensory perception, cognition, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning, and language. The human neocortex is about three times bigger than that of our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, and its folding into wrinkles, an aspect enhanced by ARHGAP11B, increased during evolution to fit inside the restricted space of the skull. The motivation for the study was an interest in how the human neocortex became so big.
It is believed that the gene duplication that created ARHGAP11B, which directs stem cells in the human brain, occurred in human evolution after the divergence from the chimpanzee lineage but before the divergence from Neanderthals, about five million years ago. This corresponds to the belief that the neocortex also evolved relatively late in human evolution. The results of the study suggest that the ARHGAP11B gene may have caused neocortex expansion during human evolution.
Monkey Brains Doubled in Size: Almost Human
The researchers observed that the modified monkey brains nearly doubled in size at around 100 days into gestation, 50 days before the normal birth date.
“We found indeed that the neocortex of the common marmoset brain was enlarged and the brain surface folded,” said study author Michael Heide.
The Experiment: Problematic According to Torah Law
But this new study raises even more issues for the Biblically minded. The monkey fetuses were aborted due to “unforeseeable consequences,” according to a press release, but had they been born, the scientists already had a name for them; “transgenic non-human primates.” Human abortion is, of course, forbidden by the Torah though animal abortion is not. The new species created in this research was genetically similar to humans and ending the development of the fetuses may be forbidden.
Rabbi Moshe Avraham Halperin of the Machon Mada’i Technology Al Pi Halacha (the Institute for Science and Technology According to Jewish Law) stated in response to the report that there are clear Torah guidelines for this new technology. Rabbi Halperin referred to the Biblical law concerning mixing of species.
Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee. Leviticus 19:19
“It is forbidden to create a creature that is a mixture of species, but as long as they are not producing a new creature that has a different form, it is permitted,” Rabbi Halperin told Israel365 News.
However, he noted, “Improving species, even the human race, is not forbidden by Jewish law. Changing the color of the skin or hair is permitted, even more so when it concerns removing genetic maladies. But the process certainly needs oversight.”
Nephilim: Sexual Sin of Mixing Species
Mixing of species is described in the Bible in a manner disturbingly similar to the experiment mixing human genetic material with developing monkey fetuses. In Genesis, “ divine beings” and, later, Nephilim interbred with human women. The result was so abhorrent to God that he severely limited the lifespan of men.
The divine beings saw how beautiful the daughters of men were and took wives from among those that pleased them. Hashem said, “My breath shall not abide in man forever, since he too is flesh; let the days allowed him be one hundred and twenty years.” It was then, and later too, that the Nephilim appeared on earth—when the divine beings cohabited with the daughters of men, who bore them offspring. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown. Genesis 6:2-4
Directly after this, men became evil and God decided to bring a flood to destroy all life. According to Jewish tradition, the animals were killed as they were equally culpable due to being part of man’s sexual sins. It may be that in addition to the sin of bestiality being based on the sexual act, the mixing of the genetic material of two species is also forbidden.
This connection between sexual sin and the mixing of species, animal and man as well as man and near-divine beings, was noted by Rabbi Yosef Berger, rabbi of the Tomb of King David on Mount Zion. Rabbi Berger explained that the verse forbidding mixing breeds of animals directly preceded a section of the Torah dealing with sexual impropriety.
And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free. Leviticus 19:20
The rabbi explained the connection between the two distinct commandments.
“This is also expressed in the sin of the generation of Noah, which, according to Jewish tradition was the forbidden mixing of animals and man,” Rabbi Berger told Israel365 News, quoting Genesis.
And Hashem said: ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and creeping thing, and fowl of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them.’ Genesis 6:7
“Noah’s generation sinned sexually, but it was expressed in the mixing of species,” he explained.
“This sexual sin could prevent the coming Messianic era as the connection between man and woman is a holy part of the process of bringing geula (redemption). This is the basis of the requirement to be fruitful and multiply: to bring Moshiach (Messiah).”
Rabbi Berger stressed that this mitzvah (Torah commandment) requires a proper level of purity. Mixing of species is an improper manifestation of procreation that led to the destruction of the generation of Noah.