Designing Our Descendants
The Promises and Perils of Genetic Modifications
Publication Year: 2003
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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List of Contributors
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Rapid breakthroughs in genetic research, spurred by the Human Genome Project, advances in molecular biology, and new reproductive technologies, are raising the prospect that at some point in the future we will have the capacity to design our descendants. There have already been reports of the birth of children with intentionally...
PART I: Introduction
1 Framing the Issues
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Typically, our society proceeds in a “reactionary mode,” scrambling to match our values and policy to scientific developments. But doing so has serious limitations. The furor over the possibility of applying somatic cell nuclear transfer technology to clone human beings underscores how difficult it is to undertake a serious examination of the...
2 Germ-Line Dancing: Definitional Considerations for Policy Makers
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Just as “good ethics requires good facts,” good policy requires good definitions. That is why the larger parts of so many public laws are devoted to the definition of their key terms: it is in those definitions that the policies find their true mission, their real scope, and their actual...
PART II: Scientific Considerations
3 Approaches to Gene Transfer to the Mammalian Germ Line
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The application of the rapidly emerging techniques of gene therapy to heritable human genetic modification is inevitable. During the past several decades, a number of such methods have been developed and successfully applied to germ-line modification in rodents and a number of larger mammals. These advances have established clearly...
4 Scientific Methodologies to Facilitate Inheritable Genetic Modifications in Humans
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The methodologies described in this chapter are being developed primarily to facilitate somatic cell therapy or improve transplant technologies in humans. However, when fully developed, they may be used to facilitate inheritable genetic modifications in humans. The scientific hurdles facing human germ-line intervention are similar to those in somatic gene transfer research...
5 Germ-Line Modification in Clinical Medicine: Is There a Case for Intentional or Unintended Germ-Line Changes?
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During the past decade, a number of technical advances have reignited the need for thoughtful consideration of the issues surrounding human germ-line modification. The unexpectedly rapid progress by the Human Genome Project has put the sequence of the entire human genome within our grasp.1 Further, improvement in the techniques...
6 Gene Repair, Genomics, and Human Germ-Line Modification
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The initiation of numerous human somatic cell gene therapy experiments, the identification of scores of human genes, the recent growth of human stem cells, and progress in animal germ-line modification—all point to the likelihood of an eventual attempt at germ-line modification in humans. Under what circumstances would the accumulation...
7 Germ-Line Gene Therapy: Can We Do It, Do We Need It, Where Do We Start, and Where Might It Lead?
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Despite several setbacks, somatic cell gene therapy is finally beginning to record some solid clinical successes.1 There is growing optimism that such an approach to the treatment of disease will indeed prove fruitful, and somatic gene therapies for a variety of disorders, both genetic and nongenetic, lethal and nonlethal, are at advanced...
PART III: Ethical and Religious Issues
8 The Moral Impasse in Human Embryo Research: Bypasses in the Making?
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In some cases, new technology creates a bypass around a seemingly intractable moral impasse. For example, before it was possible to diagnose death by neurological criteria, justifiable caution blocked the way to saving lives by transplanting organs from brain-injured patients presumed to be dead. This caution was due to uncertainty...
9 The Implications of Inheritable Genetic Modifications for Justice
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Analysts, characterizing human genetics as the “preeminent science of inequality,” 1 have raised concerns that the benefits and burdens of the genetic revolution will be unequally and unfairly distributed. This literature,much of it dating from the early 1990s, considers the Human Genome Project, genetic testing, reproductive decisions...
10 The Hidden Eugenic Potential of Germ-Line Interventions
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In the early part of the twentieth century, Thorstein Veblen coined the term trained incapacity, which unfortunately has fallen from use. The misfortune is substantial, because while the term is rarely deployed, the social phenomenon that Veblen was characterizing is more a feature of the professions and disciplines today than in his times....
11 Ethical Differences between Inheritable Genetic Modification and Embryo Selection
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Germ-line gene therapy, or inheritable genetic modification (IGM), offers the possibility of preventing serious genetic disorders by replacing defective genes in an embryo with functioning genes. Thus, IGM might be able to treat genetic disease in the embryo, instead of the current method of prenatal diagnosis and selective abortion. In avoiding...
12 Human Limits: Theological Perspectives on Germ-Line Modification
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The prospect of technologies of human self-modification evokes intense religious responses. Religious convictions, even if poorly articulated or conflicted, form the deep ground of popular sentiment from which explicit policy options emerge. Anyone engaged in serious analysis of science policy will be helped by a greater understanding of these...
13 Germ-Line Intervention and the Moral Tradition of the Catholic Church
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From the outset the reader should be clear about the perspective from which this chapter is written. It is an honest effort to state with accuracy and clarity what the moral tradition of the Catholic Church says on the matter of germline intervention. To be precise, it should be noted that only the head of the Church (the pope), general...
14 Uncountable as the Stars: Inheritable Genetic Intervention and the Human Future— A Jewish Perspective
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The first promise of the covenantal relation that forms the basis of Judaism is the one of a predictable fecundity.Abraham is promised children, not empires or kingship.However,while the people of Israel are promised uncountable generativity, it has been an assumption of the texts...
15 Parental Liberty and the Right of Access to Germ-Line Intervention: A Theological Appraisal of Parental Power
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What does the legal and moral right of autonomy imply about a right to have access to the technology of germ-line genetic intervention to alter the inheritance of one’s offspring? Before addressing this question, it is necessary to be clearer about what kinds of autonomy claims are thought to apply in this realm. This requires disentangling...
16 Inheritable Genetic Modifications: Do We Owe Them to Our Children?
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The notion that existing people possess obligations to their descendants is deeply ingrained in most societies.Many believe that one important measure of the character and quality of a person’s life or a society’s actions is the degree to which concerns for future generations are integrated into present decisions. Have we built up savings...
PART IV: Policy Issues
17 National Policies to Oversee Inheritable Genetic Modifications Research
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This chapter presents recommendations for regulating research related to inheritable genetic modifications (IGM). In producing these recommendations, we analyzed current limits that have the potential to apply to IGM, including rules promulgated by the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) of the National Institutes of Health...
18 Designing Tomorrow’s Children: The Right to Reproduce and Oversight of Germ-Line Interventions
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Advances in genetics and reproductive medicine promise to extend our choices beyond whether and when to create children to what sorts of children to create. Today we can avoid having certain sorts of children by analyzing the genes of embryos in vitro and implanting...
19 To Market, To Market: Efiects of Commerce on Cross-Generational Genetic Change
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In this chapter we explore the potential effects of commerce on human inheritable genetic modifications (IGM), whereby interventions are made that affect the inheritance patterns of future generations.We are interested in how market forces will influence their development and use. It is our thesis that forces driving the market, including...
20 Recommendations for Policy
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The technologies of inheritable genetic modifications (IGM) will be highly seductive to those who welcome them as a positive step toward shaping our genetic future. Their appeal, however, must be weighed against the uncertainty associated with their safety and the profound ethical and religious questions raised by conscious efforts to design our descendants. As advances in genetics move us ever more...
Appendix A. Consent Form for Participation in a Study of Inheritable Germ-Line Modification
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Appendix B. AAAS Report on IGM: Major Findings, Concerns, and Recommendations
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Appendix C. IGM Project Working Group
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Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2003