The phenomenon of the New Genetics raises complex social problems, particularly those of privacy. This book offers ethical and legal perspectives on the questions of a right to know and not to know genetic information from the standpoint of individuals, their relatives, employers, insurers and the state. Graeme Laurie provides a unique definition of privacy, including a concept of property rights in the person, and argues for stronger legal protection of privacy in the shadow of developments in human genetics. (...) He challenges the role and the limits of established principles in medical law and ethics, including respect for patient autonomy and confidentiality. This book will interest lawyers, philosophers and doctors concerned both with genetic information and issues of privacy; it will also interest genetic counsellors, researchers, and policy makers worldwide for its practical stance on dilemmas in modern genetic medicine. (shrink)
This book highlights some of the principles which should be considered by planners, legislative drafters, and policy-makers as they work to develop legal frameworks on access to genetic resources in their countries. Contextual information on the Convention on Biological Diversity and examples of how countries have approached the issue to date are provided.
La obra recoge, desde una perspectiva interdisciplinar, las aportaciones de un grupo de investigadores españoles e italianos que han trabajado conjuntamente durante varios años en distintas cuestiones en torno a las posibilidades y riesgos de los avances biotecnológicos y su incidencia en el campo de los derechos humanos. Los estudios y debates se han realizado en el marco del programa de doctorado internacional sobre "Derechos humanos: Problemas actuales" encabezado por las Universidades de Valencia y Palermo. El Profesor Jesús Ballesteros, Catedrático (...) de Filosofía del Derecho en la Universidad de Valencia, ha sido el encargado de dirigir y coordinar este proyecto. (shrink)
The first IVF baby was born in the 1970s. Less than 20 years later, we had cloning and GM food, and information and communication technologies had transformed everyday life. In 2000, the human genome was sequenced. More recently, there has been much discussion of the economic and social benefits of nanotechnology, and synthetic biology has also been generating controversy. This important volume is a timely contribution to increasing calls for regulation - or better regulation - of these and other new (...) technologies. Drawing on an international team of legal scholars, it reviews and develops the role of human rights in the regulation of new technologies. Three controversies at the intersection between human rights and new technology are given particular attention. First, how the expansive application of human rights could contribute to the creation of a brave new world of choice, where human dignity is fundamentally compromised; second, how new technologies, and our regulatory responses to them, could be a threat to human rights; and, third, how human rights could be used to create better regulation of these technologies. (shrink)
A common worry about the geneticengineering of human beings is that it will reduce human genetic diversity, creating a biological monoculture that could not only increase our susceptibility to disease but also hasten the extinction of our species. Thus far, however, the evolutionary implications of human genetic modification remain largely unexplored. In this paper, I consider whether the widespread use of geneticengineering technology is likely to narrow the present range of genetic (...) variation, and if so, whether this would in fact lead to the evolutionary harms that some authors envision. By examining the nature of biological variation and its relation to population immunity and evolvability, I show that not only will geneticengineering have a negligible impact on human genetic diversity, but also that it will be more likely to ensure rather than undermine the health and longevity of the human species. (shrink)
What makes humans different from other animals, what humans are entitled to do to other species, whether time travel is possible, what limits should be placed on science and technology, the morality and practicality of geneticengineering—these are just some of the philosophical problems raised by Planet of the Apes. Planet of the Apes and Philosophy looks at all the deeper issues involved in the Planet of the Apes stories. It covers the entire franchise, from Pierre Boulle’s 1963 (...) novel Monkey Planet to the successful 2012 reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The chapters reflect diverse points of view, philosophical, religious, and scientific. The ethical relations of humans with animals are explored in several chapters, with entertaining and incisive observations on animal intelligence, animal rights, and human-animal interaction. Geneticengineering is changing humans, animals, and plants, raising new questions about the morality of such interventions. The scientific recognition that humans and chimps share 99 percent of their genes makes a future in which non-human animals acquire greater importance a distinct possibility. Planet of the Apes is the most resonant of all scientific apocalypse myths. (shrink)
Geneticengineering evokes a number of objections that are not directed at the negative effects the technique might have on the health and welfare of the modified animals. The concept of animal integrity is often invoked to articulate these kind of objections. Moreover, in reaction to the advent of geneticengineering, the concept has been extended from the level of the individual animal to the level of the genome and of the species. However, the concept of (...) animal integrity was not developed in the context of geneticengineering. Given this external origin, the aim of this paper is to critically examine the assumption that the concept of integrity, including its extensions to the level of the genome and the species, is suitable to articulate and justify moral objections more specifically directed at the geneticengineering of animals. (shrink)
Despite the application of 2.5 million tons ofpesticides worldwide, more than 40% of all potentialfood production is lost to insect, weed, and plantpathogen pests prior to harvest. After harvest, anadditional 20% of food is lost to another group ofpests. The use of pesticides for pest control resultsin an estimated 26 million human poisonings, with220,000 fatalities, annually worldwide. In the UnitedStates, the environmental and public health costs forthe recommended use of pesticides total approximately$9 billion/yr. Thus, there is a need for alternativenon-chemical (...) pest controls, and geneticengineering(biotechnology) might help with this need. Diseaseand insect pest resistance to various pests has beenslowly bred into crops for the past 12,000 years;current techniques in biotechnology now offeropportunities to further and more rapidly improve thenon-chemical control of disease and insect pests ofcrops. However, relying on a single factor, like theBacillus thuringiensis toxin that has beeninserted into corn and a few other crops for insectcontrol, leads to various environmental problems,including insect resistance and, in some cases, athreat to beneficial biological control insects andendangered insect species. A major environmental andeconomic cost associated with genetic engineeringapplications in agriculture relates to the use ofherbicide resistant crops (HRC). In general, HRCtechnology results in increased herbicide use but noincrease in crop yields. The heavy use of herbicidesin HRC technology pollutes the environment and canlead to weed control costs for farmers that may be2-fold greater than standard weed control costs. Therefore, pest control with both pesticides andbiotechnology can be improved for effective, safe,economical pest control. (shrink)
The 1992 incorporation of an article by referendum in the SwissConstitution mandating that the federal government issue regulations onthe use of genetic material that take into account the dignity ofnonhuman organism raises philosophical questions about how we shouldunderstand what is meant by ``the dignity of nonhuman animals,'' andabout what sort of moral demands arise from recognizing this dignitywith respect to their geneticengineering. The first step in determiningwhat is meant is to clarify the difference between dignity when (...) appliedto humans and when applied to nonhumans. Several conceptions of humandignity should be rejected in favor of a fourth conception: the rightnot to be degraded. This right implies that those who have it have thecognitive capacities that are prerequisite for self-respect. In the caseof nonhuman organisms that lack this capacity, respecting their dignityrequires the recognition that their inherent value, which is tied totheir abilities to pursue their own good, be respected. This value isnot absolute, as it is in the case of humans, so it does not prohibitbreeding manipulations that make organisms more useful to humans. But itdoes restrict morally how sentient animals can be used. In regard togenetic engineering, this conception requires that animals be allowedthe uninhibited development of species specific functions, a positionshared by Holland and Attfield, as opposed to the Original Purposeconception proposed by Fox and the Integrity of the Genetic Make-upposition proposed by Rolston. The inherent value conception of dignity,as here defended, is what is meant in the Swiss Constitution article. (shrink)
Genetic modification leads to several important moral issues. Up until now they have mainly been discussed from the viewpoint that only individual living beings, above all animals, are morally considerable. The standpoint that also collective entities such as species belong to the moral sphere have seldom been taken into account in a more thorough way, although it is advocated by several important environmental ethicists. The main purpose of this article is to analyze in more detail than often has been (...) done what the practical consequences of this ethical position would be for the use of geneticengineering on animals and plants. The practical consequences of the holistic standpoint (focused on collective entities) of Holmes Rolston, III, is compared with the practical consequences of the individualistic standpoints (focused on individual living beings) of Bernard E. Rollin and Philipp Balzer, Klaus Peter Rippe, and Peter Schaber, respectively. The article also discusses whether the claim that species are morally considerable is tenable as a foundation for policy decisions on geneticengineering. (shrink)
This paper spells out and discusses four assumptions of the deficit model type of thinking. The assumptions are: First, the public is ignorant of science. Second, the public has negative attitudes towards (specific instances of) science and technology. Third, ignorance is at the root of these negative attitudes. Fourth, the public’s knowledge deficit can be remedied by one-way science communication from scientists to citizens. It is argued that there is nothing wrong with ignorance-based explanations per se. Ignorance accounts at least (...) partially for many cases of opposition to specific instances of science and technology. Furthermore, more attention needs to be paid to the issue of relevance. In regard to the evaluation of a scientific experiment, a technology, or a product, the question is not only who knows best?, but also what knowledge is relevant and to what extent?. Examples are drawn primarily from the debate on geneticengineering in agriculture. (shrink)
There are many ways that biological theory can inform ethical discussions of geneticengineering and biomedical enhancement. In this essay, we highlight some of these potential contributions, and along the way provide a synthetic overview of the papers that comprise this special issue. We begin by comparing and contrasting geneticengineering with programs of selective breeding that led to the domestication of plants and animals, and we consider how geneticengineering differs from other contemporary (...) biotechnologies such as embryo selection. We go on to consider the implications of geneticengineering for human nature, human evolution, and persistence of the human species. Finally, we question whether genetic interventions warrant the extraordinary ethical scrutiny they are often given, and we show how the misleading “genetic blueprint” metaphor has imposed a faulty structure on the enhancement debate. We conclude by considering the nature of biological development and the sobering limits it places on what geneticengineering can reasonably hope to achieve. (shrink)
This paper evaluates Sara Goering’s recent attempt to use the Rawlsian notion of the veil of ignorance as a tool for distinguishing permissible from impermissible forms of geneticengineering. I argue that her article fails due to a failure to include vital contextual information in the right way.
The use of geneticengineering inagriculture has been the source of much debate. Todate, arguments have focused most strongly on thepotential human health risks, the flow of geneticmaterial to related species, and ecologicalconsequences. Little attention appears to have beengiven to a more fundamental concern, namely, who willbe the beneficiaries of this technology?Given the prevalence of chronic hunger and thestark economics of farming, it is arguable thatfarmers and the hungry should be the mainbeneficiaries of agricultural research. However, theapplication of (...)geneticengineering appears unlikely tobenefit either of these two groups. This technology islargely controlled by the private sector, and itscontinued development hinges on its profitability.Thus, the only likely beneficiaries of the applicationof geneticengineering in agriculture are companieswith the capacity to use it. (shrink)
Many of the existing ethical analyses of geneticengineering technologies (GET) focus on how they can be used to enhance individuals—to improve individual well-being, health and cognition. There is a gap in the current literature about the specific ways enhancement technologies could be used to improve our populations and species, viewed as a whole. In this paper, I explore how GET may be used to enhance the species through improvements in the gene pool. I argue one aspect of (...) the species that may be desirable to enhance is ‘persistence’ or long-term viability. I then look at some of the ways in which GET could be used to improve human persistence and argue that the use of GET to secure benefits for individuals may compromise persistence. This suggests conflicts between uses of GET to enhance individuals and uses to promote the persistence of the species may occur. As GET are further developed, the likelihood that these conflicts will actually arise, and how we should resolve them if they do, will need to be considered. (shrink)
Geneticengineering: past and present as prelude to the future -- Utilitarianism and engineering to maximize welfare -- Deontology: engineering at the edges of disease, disability, difference, and death -- Virtue ethics and engineering for the virtues -- Geneticengineering, fractious problems, and a navigational approach to policymaking.
Intrinsic value and animal integrity are two key concepts in the debate on the ethics of the geneticengineering of laboratory animals. These concepts have, on the one hand, a theoretical origin and are, on the other hand, based on the moral beliefs of people not directly involved in the genetic modification of animals. This ‘external’ origin raises the question whether these concepts need to be adjusted or extended when confronted with the moral experiences and opinions of (...) people directly involved in the creation or use of transgenic laboratory animals. To answer this question, 35 persons from the practice of biomedical research who are directly involved in geneticengineering (scientists, biotechnicians, animal caretakers and laboratory animal scientists) were interviewed. They were asked to give their moral opinion on different aspects of the geneticengineering of animals and to react to statements about the concepts of intrinsic value and animal integrity. Analysis of the interviews showed that, contrary to what is often assumed, the respondents embraced these concepts, even those senses that (more) specifically apply to geneticengineering. And although the respondents raised some objections that go beyond issues of animal welfare, these objections could quite well be expressed in terms of the concepts of intrinsic value and animal integrity. In short, the results of the present study strongly suggest that these concepts do not have to be adjusted or extended in the light of the moral experiences and opinions from practice. (shrink)
Whilst there has been much debateregarding the importance of public acceptance ofgenetic engineering and its applications, there isevidence to indicate that objections to the technologyare likely to focus on specific applications of thetechnology, rather than geneticengineering per se.Thus it becomes important to examine the extent ofobjections associated with individual applications,rather than to assess public feeling regarding thetechnology overall. Survey data were collected from200 respondents regarding their objections to generalapplications of geneticengineering (where thetangible benefits (...) were not obvious). Similar objectiondata were collected from 200 different respondents,who were presented with specific applications withmore obvious tangible benefits. Overall patterns ofobjection to different applications were identifiedusing a novel method of objection mapping, inconjunction with analysis of variance to identifyindividual differences in the samples. For generalapplications, the results indicate that mostrespondents object less to applications involvingplants and microorganisms than to those involvinganimals or human genetic material. Individualdifferences in objection focus on applicationsinvolving animals or human genetic material, withwomen and those who are very concerned with theenvironment having greatest objections to theseapplications. Individual differences tend to reducewhen specific applications are used as stimuli,although the focus of concern is still on applicationsinvolving animals and human genetic material. However,gender differences were not statistically significant,and those respondents who have high levels ofenvironmental concern are differentiated by increasedobjections to large-scale agricultural applications.It is argued that effective communication regardingthe technology should focus on specific applications,and address issues of environmental impact within thecontext of these applications, if the public is tomake an informed choice regarding their acceptance ofthe products of the technology. (shrink)