27 JANUARY 2001, Page 29

The issue of the century

From Lady Lothian Sir: Apparently we are living at a time of particular danger for humanity since it has become possible for the human species to be altered irreversibly. For the manufacturers of 'new humans' in ajar, money matters; and those who stand to make or lose vast sums disguise their objective of selling either drugs or human organs by stating that they do so to cure diseases which are already curable by other means. I say this sincerely as I myself suffer from diabetes and cancer.

Public passivity when politicians sanitised abortion as a compassionate imperative while leaving out any safeguards for the human embryo (at the time when animal protectors were rightly obtaining legal security for hedgehog embryos) remains at the root of current radical research practices which will develop trade in human organs.

If it is not already happening, the mixing of human with pharmo-genetically modified embryos is only a short time away. As I see it, giving proper protection to the human embryo is the most important issue of the new century. It warrants an impartial departmental inquiry before irreversible practices pertain.

A. Lothian

Woodingdean, Sussex