Many Germans are afraid of genetic engineering, according to Spiegel Online, the online offshoot of the German news magazine Der Spiegel, and Harvard's George Church doesn't do much to alleviate those fears.
In an online excerpt of a Q&A published in this week's Der Spiegel, Church talks about recreating Neandertals, engineering humans to live to 120, making people resistant to viruses, and exchanging DNA with other species.
"Like no one else, molecular biologist George Church represents a guild that is prepared to try out anything that can be done, unconditionally," Spiegel Online writes.
According to the site, Church is currently developing technology in his lab that can be used to make human cells similar to those of Neandertals. Eventually, an "adventurous female human" needs to be found as a surrogate mother for the first Neandertal baby, Church is cited as saying, and, from many individuals, "a kind of Neandertal culture" could arise that could gain "political significance."
Church doesn't understand "why many people should be so profoundly upset by these kinds of technologies," since the concept of biological species is currently changing anyway. Up until now, the notion has been that people cannot exchange DNA with other biological species. "But this barrier will fall," he says.