The other day, the British tabloid the Daily Mail caused quite a stir by reporting the comments of Harvard geneticist, George M. Church, in this article, Wanted: ‘Adventurous Woman’ to Give Birth to Neanderthal Man-Harvard professor seeks mother for cloned cave baby. Within a day, Dr. Church had walked back the comments and, in an interview with the Boston Herald which you can find here, claimed he was misquoted and mistranslated and he’s not looking for a woman for his Frankenbaby to call “Mommy” after all. Sort of. Well, at the very least, he admits he hasn’t gotten around to advertising on Craigslist for one. Yet. Here’s what the good doctor told the Herald:
“I’m certainly not advocating it,” Church said. “I’m saying, if it is technically possible someday, we need to start talking about it today.”
So I’m with Dr. Church. Let’s start talking about it today. What I really want to talk about is the sort of adventurer who might answer Dr. Church’s call to be a modern day Eve.
Dr. Church: Thanks for responding to my posting seeking an adventurous woman. Are you familiar with my research in genetic coding?
Eve: Um, well, no. Is that going to be a problem? Because I really need this job, and when I came across your ad while I was searching the listings for a used washing machine, I thought it must be fate, you know? There I am, looking for a used washing machine ’cause mine just busted and a new one is just way too expensive and then I saw your ad and I thought maybe I could buy a new washing machine if I could land this job. Because when you buy used, you know, you don’t know what you’re getting, like who knows, maybe that washing machine was in an accident, or fell into a river, or maybe caught on fire and they covered it all up with a fresh coat of paint or something. See, it would be good if they had one of those Carfax things for washing machines, you know, that report that shows you the entire history of a used car before you buy it? Yeah, they need one of those for washing machines, don’t you think? Then I could buy used with confidence–
Dr. Church: Yes, yes, of course. Now, let me explain a little bit about what we’re working on. We’ve been able to reconstruct the DNA of homo neanderthalensis in my laboratory and we’re hoping to inject the DNA into human stem cells, and from there into a human embryo.
Eve: Yeah, ok. How much does this pay, again? Because I was looking at this Maytag over at Glenn’s Appliance Bazaar, and it’s $434, not including tax.
Dr. Church: We can discuss the financial arrangement after I explain your role in the experiment.
Eve: And the matching dryer is another $417.
Dr. Church: (taking notes) Ok, matching dryer. So, getting back to the experiment, we would then take the fertilized embryo which contains the reconstructed DNA and implant it in your uterus. We hope the DNA will then guide the embryo to develop into a homo neanderthalensis baby after about nine months or so.
Eve: Ok. So I don’t have to have sex with anybody?
Dr. Church: Not for this experiment, no.
Eve: All I have to do is carry a baby for nine months?
Dr. Church: Yes.
Eve: And then what?
Dr. Church: What do you mean?
Eve: And then what happens to Little Zog or Zogette or whatever after it’s born?
Dr. Church: (rubbing his chin) I hadn’t thought that far. Dammit!
(With a sweep of his arm, Dr. Church knocks everything off his desk and onto the floor, and runs out of the room.)
Eve: (calling after him) So, um, do I get the job? ‘Cause I’ve got a ton of laundry to do!